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By Karen Ellis

3rd Grade and Up

Classroom Music: Why don't teachers teach our state songs in our schools?



Florida's Official State Song by Stephen Foster, loved a century ago is highly offensive to USA citizens in the 21st century. Maybe it is time to bring back "Florida My Florida" which was the state song in 1913.



Maya Angelou The Power Of Words on CBS comments on words Don Imus used referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team which sparked off a national debate about the power of words.  You can't copyright culture  The times you live in dictate what is acceptable. If it is vulgar, then no one can say it.

The Power of Words by Maya Angelou

Rosa Parks
The Woman Who Changed a Nation refused to give up her seat to a white man December 1, 1955 passed away 10/54/05 when she was 92 years old. Mrs. Parks and other African Americans fought against racism, segregation, and the Jim Crow laws of the time. Would Rosa Parks or Maya Angelouwant this song sung in our classrooms across America?

Get Help to Teach Your Songs in Context.
You have to make connections between "disciplines".


Do you find the use of the word "darkeys" offensive in Florida's current State Song?

Do You Know Florida's State Song?

hThe Swanee River
(Old Folks at Home)
Written by Stephen C. Foster

sung by Paul Robeson or Al Jolson

Way down upon de Swanee Ribber,
Far, far away,
Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay.
All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation,
And for de old folks at home.


All de world am sad and dreary,
Eb-rywhere I roam;
Oh, darkeys, how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home!

2nd verse

All round de little farm I wandered
When I was young,
Den many happy days I squandered,
Many de songs I sung.
When I was playing wid my brudder
Happy was I;
Oh, take me to my kind old mudder!
Dere let me live and die.

3rd Verse

One little hut among de bushes,
One dat I love
Still sadly to my memory rushes,
No matter where I rove.
When will I see de bees a-humming
All round de comb?
When will I hear de banjo strumming,
Down in my good old home?

The OFFICIAL words are the original words for The Swanee River (Old Folks at Home) authored by Stephen Foster, America's Troubadour and written in imitation of dialect.

See Linguistics and meet Expert
Dr. John Rickford

and learn to respect dialect speakers. "The roots of dialect come from a legitimate authentic language."

Brenda Marie Osbey says, "In reality, it is difficult to find any group of African Americans anywhere in the continental U.S. who ever employed either "I'se gwine" or "I'sa gwine." Both are the result of literary invention termed in African American literary circles "plantation dialect" created primarily for comic/derisive effect by 19th century white Southern authors of the so-called "plantation school."
Because of the popularity of this usage, spelling and the related images it created of Southern racial typing, the earliest African American authors of fiction (e.g. Charles Waddell Chestnut) were compelled by (white) publishers to employ similar spellings in their own works. The poet / critic / literary historian Sterling Brown was the first to attempt to distinguish between this invented "plantation dialect" and what he termed "authentic Negro folk speech."


Maybe it is time to bring back "Florida My Florida" which was the State Song in 1913.

"Through House Concurrent Resolution No. 22 in 1935, S. P. Robineau of Miami successfully entered "The Swanee River" as the official state song" titled "Old Folks at Home" -- not "Swannee (sic) River"

Written in 1894
by Rev Dr. C. V. Waugh, a professor of languages at the Florida Agricultural College at Lake City, the song was said by the Legislature to have "both metric and patriotic merit of the kind calculated to inspire love for home and native State." Sung to the tune of "Maryland, My Maryland" a strongly Secessionist song written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 which turned into one of the biggest hits of the Confederacy and became a State song in the 1930's.

Land of my birth, bright sunkissed land,
Florida, my Florida.
Laded by the Gulf and Ocean grand,
Florida, my Florida.

Of all the States in East or West,
Unto my heart thou art the best
Here may I live, here may I rest
Florida, my Florida.

The golden fruit the world outshines
Florida, my Florida,
Thy gardens and thy phosphate mines,
Florida, my Florida,

In country, town, or hills and dells,
Florida, my Florida,
The rhythmic chimes of the school bells
Florida, my Florida,

Will call thy children day by day
To learn to walk the patriot's way
Firmly to stand for thee for aye
Florida, my Florida.

Yield their rich store of good supply,
To still the voice of hunger's cry-
For thee we'll live, for thee we'll die
Florida, my Florida.

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson Step Dance Swanee River (1932)



Learn how it became part of the language, and the name for racist laws and attitudes used to oppress blacks in the Southern United States in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Folk and work songs always have been windows into culture and history. But many of the Hate songs being sung by "folk groups" at "folk music events" show the Intersection between Cultural Identity and Racist Ideology.

Learn how to stop Bullies in your school. How do we teach using Song, Literature and Film?

1) Complaint Leads School to Ban "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
2) Complaint Leads School To Drop `Pick a Bale of Cotton' From School Concert
3) 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.
4) Ms. Shirley Temple sings Polly Wolly Doodle and dances with Bill "Bonjangels" Robinson on her way upstairs to bed in The Little Colonel.

Folktale and Song about John Henry the beginning of rock and roll.

Irishman Stephen Foster born in western Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania died on January 13, 1864, in Bellevue Hospital at New York City with .38 cents in his pocket. Music Deals he was signed to Columbia Records!



Black History Month All Year Long Online Curriculum

Central Florida school districts pay Substitute Teachers:

Leadbelly 1945

Strange Fruit Billie Holiday


Through each Secretary of State you can contact all fifty states to find out what your State Song is.

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