Kentucky Derby Bucks Activists, Plays Classic Song Before Race

by akoloy

The traditional track “My Old Kentucky Home” can be performed on the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, because the occasion will select custom over the complaints from activists who contend the ballad is racist.

WLKY-TV reported that regardless of an effort to cancel the track, it will likely be a part of the 2021 race, being performed simply earlier than the bell.

WLKY famous the track has been performed yearly at the race since a minimum of 1921. But in recent times, organizers have confronted stress to decide on one other track.

Smithsonian Magazine profiled the controversy over the track final September.

The outlet reported that songwriter Stephen Foster wrote the track within the 1850s “as an anti-slavery song, inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and following the same story arc as Stowe’s title character. His initial working title was ‘Poor Uncle Tom, Goodnight.’”

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“Few of those singing along, however, may realize that the original lyrics were not a ‘Dixie’-esque paean but actually a condemnation of Kentucky’s enslavers who sold husbands away from their wives and mothers away from their children. As Foster wrote it, ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ is actually the lament of an enslaved person who has been forcibly separated from his family and his painful longing to return to the cabin with his wife and children,” Smithsonian reported.

So, if the track is lamenting the evils of slavery, why all of the fuss?

Joseph Gerth with the Louisville Courier-Journal argued in 2019 that the track wanted to be retired, partially due to its dated terminology when referring to black Americans.

“It’s hard to assess what Foster’s intentions were when he wrote the song nine years before the American Civil War began, whether this was a song lamenting the sad life of a slave or something not so benign,” wrote Gerth.

“His liberal use of the word ‘darkies’ in the song is troubling, but in that day and age it would have been less repulsive than it is now,” the reporter added.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the track’s lyrics learn: “The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home / ‘Tis summer, the people are gay / The corn-top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom / While the birds make music all the day.”

“The young folks roll on the little cabin floor / All merry, all happy and bright / By’n by hard times comes a knocking at the door / Then my old Kentucky home, Good night!”

“Weep no more my lady / Oh! Weep no more today! / We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home / For the old Kentucky home, far away.”

Here is the track being performed in 2016 earlier than the 142nd Kentucky Derby:

Newsweek reported that the phrase “darkies” is omitted from the model of the track performed, and has been since a minimum of 1986.

With the unique lyrics containing language thought of dated and with Foster’s true inspiration for the track now debated, the annual drive to have the track retired started once more this yr — even though the track is conventionally accepted as being sympathetic to the victims of slavery whereas celebrating freedoms in the Bluegrass State.

But the Kentucky Derby made it clear this week the track could be performed.

Churchill Downs will function Saturday, simply as it could in every other yr, and people in attendance and watching on TV will hear the track, as is custom.

This article appeared initially on The Western Journal.

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