This story’s right, this story’s true

I would not tell lies to you

Like the promises they did not keep

And how they fenced us in like sheep.

Said to us come take our hand

Sent us off to mission land.

Taught us to read, to write and pray

Then they took the children away,

Took the children away,

The children away.

Snatched from their mother’s breast

Said this is for the best

Took them away.

 

The welfare and the policeman

Said you’ve got to understand

We’ll give them what you can’t give

Teach them how to really live.

Teach them how to live they said

Humiliated them instead

Taught them that and taught them this

And others taught them prejudice.

You took the children away

The children away

Breaking their mothers heart

Tearing us all apart

Took them away

 

One dark day on Framingham

Come and didn’t give a damn

My mother cried go get their dad

He came running, fighting mad

Mother’s tears were falling down

Dad shaped up and stood his ground.

He said ‘You touch my kids and you fight me’

 

And they took us from our family.

Took us away

They took us away

Snatched from our mother’s breast

Said this was for the best

Took us away.

 

Told us what to do and say

Told us all the white man’s ways

Then they split us up again

And gave us gifts to ease the pain

Sent us off to foster homes

As we grew up we felt alone

Cause we were acting white

Yet feeling black

 

One sweet day all the children came back

The children come back

The children come back

Back where their hearts grow strong

Back where they all belong

The children came back

Said the children come back

The children come back

Back where they understand

Back to their mother’s land

The children come back

 

Back to their mother

Back to their father

Back to their sister

Back to their brother

Back to their people

Back to their land

All the children come back

The children come back

The children come back

Yes I came back.

 

Songwriters: Archibald William Roach

Took The Children Away lyrics © O/B/O Apra Amcos

Why this song?

For decades, the Australian Government implemented a genocidal policy of ripping Aboriginal children away from their families. This resulted in ‘the Stolen Generations’. Archie Roach’s song tells this story and his own history. It’s a song that resonates so strongly now with the forced separation of asylum-seeking families trying to come to the USA from Central and South America. The song finishes with the return of the children - Archie included - offering us hope for the long run.

Listen to this song and then to Briggs’ song on this playlist, ‘The Children Came Back’. It’s very Aussie, so if you’re not Australian you might not appreciate all the references, but it’s a wonderful telling of some of those children who returned. It’s also worth viewing the apology to the Aboriginal people by Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in 2008 (and watch the movie, Rabbit-proof Fence) - Submitted by Rose

Submit a song!

This playlist is a collaborative effort, so your input is not only welcome but vital! Please share a song with us. We're looking for:

  • music that reminds us what we’re struggling for;
  • music that reminds us of why it’s worth the struggle;
  • music that strengthens us when we need to be brave; that lifts up up when we’re feeling lost or helpless; that reminds us of our own power; that connects us through our common humanity;
  • songs we can sing when we’re facing down injustices in the world.