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Swing low, Sweet Harriet – don’t ban rugby anthem

England rugby fans aren’t the only ones to have hijacked the anthem Swing Low Sweet Chariot, the Woke Brigade are now clamouring to have it banned.

On the erroneous reason that it is a slavery song.

Formidable woman: Harriet Tubman

Of course, it deals with slavery, anti-slavery. And here’s where kneejerk and hysterical political correctness can do such damage.

The Underground Railroad

Swing Low in fact celebrates the life of Harriet Tubman, champion of the Underground Railroad.

Harriet’s song

Whose remarkable story was celebrated in the titular film Harriet last year.

And you would know that if you had visited the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum in Memphis

Rallying call

The song is believed to have been a coded message, meant to sound like a gospel spiritual, but really a rallying call to slaves.

Deep South History

Swing Low, Sweet Harriet, Coming for to Carry Me Home.’

Which is what Harriet Tubman was trying to do… bring them home to freedom.

Fans’ favourites: The England rugby team

So let’s disprove the theory that it was a pro-slavery song.

Because even if it did pass through the hands of Wallace Willis, the singer credited with curating the song, he was in fact a Choctaw Freedman.

Sign of the times

While the Civil Rights Movement championed the song too.

And if you want to judge something by who its supporters here’s who banned it before.

Only Hitler’s Nazis!

An anthem for today

If anything Swing Low ought to be more relevant today than at any time since the Eighties when it was said to have been taken up to celebrate England rugby star Martin Offish.

The best guides

‘Chariots’ Offiah and all that.

But songs and symbols can deviate over the course of history, and in this case it should have come full circle and now be a song of hope.

American Trilogy

Which is why I can’t understand why the song sits uncomfortably with former England great Maggie Alphonsi.

The best way to become more informed about culture and history is through travel.

And that means visiting the Deep South which I chronicled in my American Trilogy The Promised Land, The story of the Blues and The King of Kings.

What lies within: The real story

Sport and Deep South history aside Swing Low was the song of Aussies and Kiwis at the Oktoberfest in Munich in the Eighties.

Complete with hand signals.

I dare say they dispersed with the song when the England rugby fans took it up as their anthem.

And now that they look like kicking it into touch there’s a great song of liberation and enlightenment to be embraced by another set of fans.

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