Some people have been asking me to explain some things about this song, so here is the annotated version. No citations- everything in it is common knowledge so feel free to Google away for more info.
My name is Nathan Justice and I come into this life
Two score and seven years ago on a dark Michigan night
>>Nathan Justice, 47 years old born in Michigan
And I have been thru poverty and I have been thru pain
Seems like the things I fought against they’re coming back again
And I wonder what its coming to can a man ever be free
When he opens up his eyes without knowing what he’ll see
>>Nathan has lived thru a lot but he fears that a lot of what he has struggled against will never go away
My dad was born in Covington a former slave’s grandson
In the Mississippi Delta where the red rivers run
>>His father was born in the Delta region of the south. a very fertile land where racial prejudice (and the red clay) meant that the rivers often had a red tinge. Sometimes from the blood blacks, is the inference.
One day they say he spoke some words to a local white mans wife
So he left his home and family and ran for his life.
>>Under Jim Crow, even saying something that could be misinterpreted could mean a death sentence (see the case of Emmett Till). So he fled.
He rode on a freight car got as far as Ohio in the Great Migration
Chased by old Jim Crow
>>Great Migration: when millions of Blacks moved out of the Jim Crow South for a better life in such northern cities as Chicago, New York, Detroit and even LA.
For 40 years he worked the plant to give us all a life
Send us off to college so wed never live in strife
I studied hard and I passed the bar
Settled down and raised a family
Bought a home and raised two kids to be all they could be
>>His father fought his way into the middle class and so did he.
But when I look around I see injustice everywhere from the looks on peoples faces to the hatred in the air…
>>He has recently detected a new feeling of injustice and hatred among society
Out on the city streets my kids can’t walk free
Without worrying about getting stopped and searched by the police
>>The “Stop and Frisk” method of policing, which has been discontinued by many police depts but is still followed, in some cases with a nod and wink. As well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Our school system’s neglected peeling paint and crumbling walls
My kids can’t learn sitting in the cold with textbooks that are ten years old
>> Substandard schools are often the norm in the inner cities
They’re poisoning out water, kids sick from paint with lead
And all the politicians say are the lies we’ve been fed
>> The Flint Water crisis
And so I can’t help think once again we all must go
Away to find a better life
Chased by a New Jim Crow