School play showed slaves eager to pick cotton

“The University of North Carolina Extension Bulletin in 1925 published a booklet of historical pageants for youths, ‘Children of Old Carolina,’ by Ethel Theodora Rockwell. … Any elementary school in North Carolina was obliged to send $10 for each performance [it staged], while those outside North Carolina had to pay $25.

“The cast of ‘Children of Old Carolina’ include ‘colored’ characters played by children, presumably in blackface. When the character of a ‘negro boy,’ playing a lively tune on a banjo, enters, the ‘colored children carrying baskets and bags of cotton’ join him onstage singing, ‘Dis cott’n want a-pickin’ so bad’…

“The play encourages children to act out the revised history of an Old South populated by happy African American slaves who cannot wait to pick cotton.”

— From “Raising Racists: The Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South” by Kristina DuRocher (2011)


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