News| Race In America | Slave Song Angers Parents, NAACP

News| Race In America | Slave Song Angers Parents, NAACP

Published February 11, 2008

Posted Nov. 22, 2005 – A Black parent and the NAACP weren’t too pleased with a mostly White school district in Berkley, Mich., last week after one of the middle schools chose a song that they say glorifies slavery, The Detroit News reported.

The song, "Pick a Bale of Cotton," includes these lyrics:  "Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton. Gotta jump down, turn around, Oh Lordie, pick a bale a day."

Anderson Middle School had chosen the song to be performed at a recent folk music choir program. 

Greg Montgomery told The Detroit News that he went to school officials asking that they remove the song from the program, but they refused, so he decided to pull his 11-year-old daughter from the performance.

"It's mind-boggling that people don't understand sensitive issues," he told the newspaper.

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His daughter, China, told The Detroit News that the song brought back memories of how African-Americans picked cotton, “and it wasn't a good memory,” she said. “It was disrespectful to African-Americans."

Berkley schools spokeswoman Gwen Ahern said that after some thought, Superintendent Tresa Zumsteg decided Monday to remove the song from the program.

Ahearn told AP that the song was not intended to offend anyone and it became “apparent that that is the case,” so the song was pulled.

“We used to sing that song when I was in school during the ‘50s,” Ahearn said. “It's like a Southern type of folk song. I remember it being perky. It was more of a song that people just sang for fun."

Should the song have been pulled from the school choir's program or was the parent being too sensitive?  Click on "Discuss Now" and tell us what you think.


Written by BET-Staff


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