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The Ballad of the Underground Railroad

By Charles L. Blockson

This song is not a spiritual, but tells the story of the Underground Railroad through music. As the song traces the slaves’ flight to freedom, it refers to the spirituals the slaves used to communicate information on the Underground Railroad to each other. There are references to “Wade in the Water” and “Follow the Drinking Gourd” , with its emphasis on following the North Star.

Lyrics:

The Underground Train,
Strange as it seems,
Carried many passengers
And never was seen

It wasn’t made of wood,
It wasn’t made of steel;
A man-made train that
Ran without wheels.

The train was known
By many a name.
But the greatest of all
Was “The Freedom Train”

The Quakers, the Indians,
Gentiles and Jews,
Were some of the people
Who made up the crews.

Free Blacks and Christians
And Atheists, too,
Were the rest of the people
Who made up the crews.

Conductors and agents
Led the way at night,
Guiding the train
By the North Star Light.

The passengers were
The fugitive slaves
Running from slavery
And its evil ways.

Running from the whip
And the overseer,
From the slave block
And the Auctioneer.

They didn’t want their masters
To catch them again,
So men dressed as women
And the women dressed as men.

 

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