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A blues song, written by Big Bill Broonzy in 1947. In the 1940s, Broonzy began to become increasingly dissatisfied with the slow pace of social change, especially with regard to race relations. Broonzy had been especially hopeful that black participation in World War II would lead to greater social equality back home. "Black, Brown, and White" reflected his growing fear that the wartime experience had led to little substantive change.

After every American record company Broonzy approached refused to record "Black, Brown, and White," Broonzy recorded it several times in Europe. Although it led to his estrangement from the American recording industry, and was never well known during his life, the song Broonzy called "the best, most important song I ever wrote" is now one of his best known.


This little song that I'm singin' about,
People you know it's true.
If you is black and gotta work for a livin'
Now, this is what they will say to you -

They says, if you was white, you'd be alright,
If you was brown, stick around,
But as you is black, oh brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

I was in a place one night,
They was all havin' fun,
They was all buyin' beer and wine,
But they would not sell me none.

They says, if you was white, you'd be alright,
If you was brown, stick around,
But as you is black, oh brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

I went to the employment office,
Got a number and I got in line.
They called everybody's number,
But they never did call mine.

They said, if you was white, you'd be alright,
If you was brown, stick around,
But as you is black, oh brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

Me and a man was workin' side by side,
This is what it meant -
They was payin' him a dollar an hour,
They was payin' me 50 cents.

They said, if you was white, you'd be alright,
If you was brown, stick around,
But as you black, oh brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

I helped build this country,
And I fought for it too.
Now I guess that you can see
What a black man have to do.

They says, if he was white, he'd be alright,
If he was brown, stick around,
But as he was black, oh brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

I helped win sweet victory,
With my little plow and hoe.
Now I want you to tell me brother,
What you gonna do 'bout the old Jim Crow.

Now, if you was white, you is alright,
If you was brown, stick around,
But if you is black, oh brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

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