Trump was a name that Woody Guthrie knew and despised when Donald Trump was a 4-year-old, professor Will Kaufman discovered to his surprise on a trip to the Guthrie archives in Tulsa, Okla. Trump's father, real estate developer Fred Trump, became the folk singer's landlord in 1950 when he signed a lease at the massive Beach Haven development in Brooklyn, Kaufman writes in the Conversation. Kaufman, a professor of American literature and culture at Britain's University of Central Lancashire, says he uncovered writings that "pit America's national balladeer against the racist foundations of the Trump real estate empire." Fred Trump made a fortune building public housing projects, largely for returning servicemen like Guthrie, and collecting rent on them, Kaufman notes.
Guthrie, a fierce critic of racism and inequality whose best-known song was "This Land Is Your Land," was angered by what Kaufman calls Trump's "enthusiastic embrace" of federal housing policies that segregated blacks and whites. During the two years Guthrie lived in what he started calling "Bitch Havens," he wrote some lyrics about "Old Man Trump" that were never published. Among them:
- I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial Hate/he stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That color line/Here at his/Eighteen hundred family project ...
Kaufman says the bigotry that angered Guthrie was clearly passed from father to son. "Donald did inherit his father's racism, and was probably actively coached in his father's racism, and worked with his father to perpetuate it," he tells the Washington Post
. "He picked up the mantle and ran with it with his father at his side."