The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140761 Message #4066464
Posted By: Rex
29-Jul-20 - 02:50 PM
Thread Name: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
Subject: RE: Are racist, but traditional, songs OK?
I was presenting some nineteenth century songs at a symposium. The audience was almost exclusively historians. I presented The Yellow Rose of Texas, gave some of the background, pointed out offensive words, particularly "darkie" and then performed the song. The words are from a hand written paper in the archives of the University of Texas at Austin which I pointed out. Contrary to popular belief it's origins are not about cowboys. I was later confronted by some who were offended by the song leaving me to wonder what is the purpose of a symposium?
Point two, I was asked to give a presentation for a class of graduate students at the University of Denver. The subject was songs that were popular during the beginnings of settlements in the Colorado Territory. A sub heading was the popularity of minstrel songs, America's first pop music and its rough edges. I pointed out a good example, The Year of Jubilo or Kingdom Coming. It was written by an abolitionist and is pointing out the rise of the former slave and the fleeing of his captors. But that word, "darkie" runs all through the song. I had to make sure that all cell phones were down and the students would simply see the song as it is warts and all. The professor was sympathetic and felt it was right to include the song as an example of what seems to be good intentions for the time by its writer. Not all the students agreed. In this place of learning some could not get past that word. Even if this is a good example of again, good intentions, I do not believe I will ever sing it again in any situation.