Books, Film, have always been windows into culture and history.

  1. Forever praised and forever controversial, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" has been pulled from classes in Taylor because of complaints about its liberal use of common racial slurs. In a move that's sparking debate that's dogged Mark Twain's classic since its 1885 publication, Taylor School District officials halted instruction of the book some consider the Great American Novel after at least one African-American parent complained about the racial epithet that's repeated more than 200 times on its pages.

  2. "Complaint Leads School To Drop `Pick a Bale of Cotton' From School Concert" Comment from From: Shantae Williams Detroit, USA Subject: A_bale_of_trouble
    "Well, I am an African-American woman, and I think it is pathetic that these parents cried foul over something they did not take the time to understand. . .] "The song is a piece of history. It was written by African Americans, For African Americans, to be sung to make the day of work go by faster. By not keeping these songs alive, it will be much easier for the masses to forget how African Americans, though enslaved, still managed to create a distinct culture of their own. By a very diverse choir coming together and singing this song, it brings forth a wonderful message of racial equality, not of discrimination. The fact that we can all enjoy African American songs together, is a step in the right direction toward complete equality. I believe strongly that we are all equal and by singing this song together, we show that we have moved past a horrible event in our history, but we aren't forgetting it either. Slavery must never be forgotten and never be repeated."
    Pick a Bale of Cotton
    also see this one
    "Pick a Bale of Cotton" from the recording entitled Get on Board: Negro Folksongs by the Folkmasters, Folkways FP 2028, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. ©1952. Used by permission.
    "Pick a Bale" has been classed as a work song but it also was used frequently during slave times as a dance tune or reel. As a work song it has a "John Henry" twist in that the lyric speaks of picking a bale of cotton a day, an impossible task for one person. This version of the song is credited to the late Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter and is more of a joyous dance interpretation than a work lament. Sonny Terry sings the verse over and over with the other two singers filling in a low chanted background.


  3. Born for Hard Luck: Peg Leg Sam Jackson A film portrait of the last Black medicine-show performer, Arthur "Peg Leg Sam" Jackson,  black harmonica player, singer, and comedian who made his living "busking" on the street and performing in patent-medicine shows touring southern towns. Footage includes excerpts from one of his last medicine shows, videotaped at a county fair in 1972, and material filmed near his home in South Carolina in 1975. The performance includes harmonica solos, songs, a parody of a chanted sermon, folktales and reminiscences, and three buck dances.

  4. Ms. Shirley Temple sings Polly Wolly Doodle and Shirley Temple dances with Bill "Bonjangels" Robinson on her way upstairs to bed in The Little Colonel.