That’s Why Darkies Were Born
Whenever I hear the words ‘thats why darkies were born’, I always think of Paul Robeson and Kate Smith. They both are great human beings who made some incredible contributions in the world of music. They were both born and grew up in the South, and as a result, they had some pretty dark things to deal with.
During Kate Smith’s heyday, her rendition of “God Bless America” was played during games of Major League Baseball and the NHL. But after it became clear that her songs had racist lyrics, the Yankees and the Flyers removed her from their teams.
Smith’s career reached its zenith during World War II. She recorded “God Bless America” for Victor Records in 1939. The song became so popular that it helped sell hundreds of millions of war bonds.
During World War II, Kate Smith sang the song for troops. She never took singing lessons and never married. Her career earned her more than $30 million in her lifetime. She also received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
But her career was cut short in 1986. She suffered brain damage from debilitating diabetes. She died in North Carolina. Her statue was removed from the arena. The Flyers then erected a memorial statue of Smith outside their stadium. It was later removed because of new attention to the lyrics of her songs in the 1930s.
The Flyers had been big fans of Kate Smith. But in 1969, they began to play her version of “God Bless America” instead of the national anthem. They figured that her rendition was a winning one. But the Flyers were unhappy with some of the songs she recorded, including the racist “Old Black Joe is the Santa Claus.”
Kate Smith died in 1986. In the years since her death, her songs have been a hot topic of debate. Her family says they are “appalled” by the controversy. They say she did not write the songs. They also say she only performed racist songs in her twenties.
During his lifetime, Paul Robeson was described as the “king of Harlem”. He was also a member of the Anti-Lynching Crusade. He also became involved in the Communist Party. Throughout his career, he was attacked for his political views.
His autobiography was published in 1958. The book contained numerous quotations about Robeson from various sources. One quote stated that Robeson was “the idol of his people” and “a voice of a generation”. Another quote stated that Robeson’s “record speaks for itself” and that “walls are moving.”
A third quote stated that “someone HAD to slave”. This quote was attributed to Paul Robeson, but it could be read as a meta-musical justification for slavery.
Paul Robeson was born in 1898. He graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and went on to become an actor and a civil rights activist. He also served as an All-American football player and was a member of the National Football League.
Paul Robeson was an honorary member of the West African Students’ Union. He went on to study Swahili and phonetics. He also studied African American spirituals. He gave the first vocal recital of African American spirituals in 1925.
He was also an internationalist. He traveled to countries in the Soviet bloc and spoke at a conference in Paris in 1949.
George White’s Scandals
Among the many great movies of the early 1930s, George White’s Scandals has a lot to offer. A star-studded cast includes Alice Faye, Rudy Vallee, Jimmy Durante and Cliff Edwards. In addition to Faye’s singing, the film features an array of blackface performers.
“Scandals” is a wacky, funny, glitzy mega-movie. In fact, it was more of a revue than a proper movie. The show consists of a sextet of performers (Alice Faye, Rudy Vallee, Cliff Edwards, Jimmy Durante, and Adrienne Ames). It is a lot more fun than it sounds. There are some great sex scenes, but the overall storyline is a bit thin. The bouncing ball song is one of the best.
The “You Nasty Man” is a great production number. The song has a lot to say, and it’s a good scandal. The lyrics are vulgar and the song is overly lengthy, but it has the best production value.
The “You Might Be Right” is also a slick production number. The song contains several duets, a rousing medley, and a cute sextet. It’s the smallest of the triumvirate, but it’s still the best of the bunch.
The “George White’s Scandals” name may be a bit of a mouthful, but the show is certainly a lot of fun. As a matter of fact, it was so much fun that they made a sequel in 1935. If you can find it, it’s well worth the effort.