Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Listen to SHEEP, SHEEP, DON'TCHA KNOW THE ROAD by Bessie Jones and the Sea Island Singers.

When I was a little girl, I thought Jim Crow might have been a bird, because it was "going down to the new ground," and they always shoot them birds out of the corn. "New ground" is ground where the trees have been cut off, but it's never been planted in. So that was what I understood at the time, that was my idea. But we don't know what the old folks meant, we sure don't.
John Davis: I don't believe the old folks knew what they were talking about their ownselves. Anyway, they didn't tell nobody. . . .

"Probably, to begin with, 'Jim Crow' was a bird, as Mrs. Jones and Mr. Davis suggest, but during the late 1820s the name became attached to a young white actor, Thomas D. Rice, who had invented a stage characterization of the 'jolly, carefree' plantation slave. . . . 'Jim Crow' thus developed from a dance imitating the motions of birds and hunters, and quite possibly magical in nature, into a commercial caricature. No wonder the term, when used in political context, has a bitter taste today."

Photo: Martin's guest appearance (3).


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