As It Happens

Oscar Brown Jr's daughter wants Trump to stop reading her dad's 'Snake' lyrics at rallies

Africa Brown says her father, Oscar Brown Jr., a civil rights activist, would've been "shocked" that Donald Trump was using his words.
Donald Trump has been reading the lyrics to Oscar Brown Jr's song, "The Snake." Oscar Brown Jr. was a singer-songwriter and a civil rights activist in Chicago. (Joshua Roberts/ Reuters/ Africa Brown )

For months, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been reading the words to the song "The Snake" at his rallies, suggesting the lyrics are a parable from which listeners can learn about the perils of immigration. 

The song tells the story of a woman who brings an injured snake into her home and cares for it. The snake then bites her, and when the woman asks why, the snake says "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in." 

The song was written by Oscar Brown Jr. in 1963, and was made popular by Al Wilson in 1968. 

A cease-and-desist letter has been sent to the Trump campaign, but so far, the request has not been heeded. 
Oscar Brown Jr's daughters, Africa (L) and Maggie Brown (R) say their dad would not agree with Donald Trump's interpretation of "The Snake." (Africa Brown )

Oscar Brown Jr.'s daughter, Africa Brown, agrees that the lyrics are a parable, relevant even today. But she has a slightly different interpretation. 

Carol Off: What do you think your father would have said about Donald Trump reading "The Snake" at his rallies? 

Africa Brown: I think he would've been shocked and amazed, because what Donald Trump stands for, and what my father stands for, are in such opposition. The snake was basically written to outline something like what Trump is doing! It's actually amazing to me, because I know he would have said it's about him! If we let you in, and we see what you are, then we shouldn't be surprised when we get what we get. Everyone sees what he's standing for, and my father would've seen what he's standing for immediately. 
Oscar Brown Jr. was a singer, songwriter, and civil rights activist in Chicago. He died in 2005. (Africa Brown )

CO: When Donald Trump reads "The Snake," he makes it clear that the snakes are refugees, and the sweet, kind woman who cares for the snake, that's the America that he believes in, that then gets bitten by "the reptile with the grin." That's the analogy he's making. You're saying your father would make a different analogy? 

AB: Yes, the American people would be the poor, tender woman. And he [Trump] would be the sly one that we would be taking in. 

CO: Into the White House? 

AB: Yes! It would definitely be poisonous, because the venom we see being spewed right now, it's no secret, the hatred and the bad feelings it's spurring. In my opinion, and I'm sure in my father's opinion, those things are poisonous to a society. 

For more about Oscar Brown Jr., and what his family thinks about Donald Trump using "The Snake," listen to our full interview with Africa Brown.