When I chose Zippity Do Dah for my Z post, I thought it was just a song to sing when you are happy. But in reading about the origins and lyrics of the song, I learned it is surrounded by controversy. So much for singing Zippity Do Dah and doing the dance of joy because we have all reached the end of the A to Z Challenge. Some facts I didn’t know:
~ The song is from a Disney movie called Song of the South about Br’er Rabbit and Uncle Remus.
~ The movie was released in 1946 and criticized by the NAACP: “the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery . . . [the film] unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.”
~ The stars of the movie and others disagreed. Actress Hattie McDaniel who played the character Tempy in Song of the South and sang Sooner or Later said: “If I had for one moment considered any part of the picture degrading or harmful to my people I would not have appeared therein.”
~Hattie McDaniel is better remembered as the first black actress to win an Oscar in 1939 for her role of Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Her roles portraying hard-working black women were often criticized as stereotypes, and she was criticized for not being politically active. She is loosely quoted as saying, “I can play a maid in the movies for $700 a week or work as a maid downtown for $7 a week.”
~ Hattie McDaniel lost her battle with breast cancer in Los Angeles, California, on October 26, 1952. Since her death, McDaniel has been posthumously awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additionally, in 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. A well-received biography on her life was published in 2005—Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, by Jill Watts.
~ You can watch her Oscar acceptance speech and read 5 more facts about her here:
~ James Baskett who sang Zippity Do Dah in the film, Song of the South, agreed with Hattie McDaniel, saying, “I believe that certain groups are doing my race more harm in seeking to create dissension than can ever possibly come out of the Song of the South.”
I end with James Baskett in a You Tube video singing Zippity Do Dah:
Have a beautiful day and thanks for stopping by the A to Z Challenge. You can see other bloggers participating in the Challenge: