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Oh, Freedom

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Subject: The Freedom Singers, African-American music, African-American Civil Rights Movement, Joseph E. Boone, William Holmes Borders
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Oh, Freedom

"Oh, Freedom" is a post-Civil War African-American freedom song. It is often associated with the American Civil Rights Movement, with Odetta, who recorded it as part of the "Spiritual Trilogy", on her Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues album, and with Joan Baez, who performed the song at the 1963 March on Washington. Baez has since performed the song live numerous times, both during her concerts and at other events. The song was first recorded in 1931 by the E. R. Nance Family with Clarence Dooley as "Sweet Freedom".

Some versions of the fourth verse contain the line "No more tommin'," where the word tommin is a derogatory term denoting some black men's extreme submissiveness towards a white person or white people. The word seems to have been derived from Harriet Beecher Stowe's fictitious character Uncle Tom in Uncle Tom's Cabin. These words are not part in the traditional verses, but a later addition, itself part of folk tradition in the USA, in which extra verses are added to traditional songs to highlight different personal feelings, agendas, or lyrical. Invention

Lyrics

“Oh Freedom”

Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
No more moaning, no more moaning, no more moaning over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
No more weeping, no more weeping, no more weeping over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
There'll be singin', there'll be singin', there'll be singin' over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
There'll be glory, there'll be glory, there'll be glory over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
Oh freedom, oh freedom, oh freedom over me
And before I'd be a slave I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

In the Barry Goldwater Campaign, words were changed to be "And before I'd be a slave, I'll see Barry in his grave and go fight for my rights and be free."

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