Sharp Notes Monday: ‘Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)’

While our Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts music and social media project was on hiatus for the summer, we shared a song every Monday to start your week. We’ve decided to make Sharp Notes Monday a permanent feature.

In January of 1948, Wood Guthrie saw news reports about a plane crash that claimed the lives of 32 people, including 28 migrant farm workers who were being deported from California back to Mexico. Guthrie found it troubling that the reports mentioned the pilot, co-pilot, flight attendant and guard by name, but referred to the others as deportees.

Guthrie wrote a poem, which eventually became the song Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos). The lyrics describe his anger and frustration with the way the migrants were described:

You won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be “deportees”

Nearly 75 years after the chartered plane carrying the 28 migrants crashed, another chartered plane carrying migrants was in the news.

This time the plane safely transported about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard because Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis decided they should go to a sanctuary state instead of the one he governs.

The circumstances are different form the ones that inspired Guthrie’s song, but Deportees reminds us that the migrants DeSantis sent away are people with names too.

Click here to learn more about our Sharp Notes, Sharp Thoughts music and social media project and view videos of our presentations.

Categories: Jandoli Institute, Music and Social Justice, Politics, Pop Culture, Sharp Notes Sharp Thoughts


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