The Southern Poverty Law Center has launched a campaign to provide legal information and to “protect and advance immigrant rights” through song.
“El Corrido de David y Goliat,” by Flor de Toloache, is the first single released as part of the SPLC’s Immigrant Songs campaign. It is out today on Chulo Records.
“We do a lot of community education talking to immigrants and giving people advice about how to protect themselves in these difficult times,” Mary Bauer, the SPLC’s deputy legal director for immigration issues, tells Billboard. “It’s challenging to do that and to reach large numbers of people. A corrido is the perfect way to get that word out.”
The Spanish lyrics of “El Corrido de David y Goliat,” which will be released on digital services and shipped to radio stations and news media today (Feb. 22), narrate the story of “a gringo called Goliat O’Conner,” an immigration enforcement officer who was “so abusive catching allegedly illegals that actually were not.” When Goliat and his troops arrive in a Latino neighborhood on a raid, telling people to come out of their houses to be processed for deportation, one immigrant, named David, “was aware of the law so he didn’t go outside.”
“Keeping calm they signed no papers,” the corrido continues. “They didn’t answer questions even though they were threatened.”
The song has a happy ending for the immigrants: “They were all released, the arrest was illegal. Lawyers helped him and the process was stopped. David knew the laws and Goliat was fired.”
Bauer calls the song “an incredible collaboration” between the SPLC and Grammy-winners Flor de Toloache, an all-woman mariachi band. She adds that a second song, by a still unidentified artist, will soon be released as part of the campaign. Radio distribution for the songs will target areas with high immigrant populations.
“These are stories about what immigrants need to know, particularly in this environment with immigrants protecting themselves from ICE and from unscrupulous employers,” Bauer adds. “I personally am not capable of putting together a song; we [at SPLC] are very much lawyers. To have our legal advice put together into such a compelling and beautiful way is magical and powerful.”