That's Why Darkies Were Born

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"That's Why Darkies Were Born" was a popular song written by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown. It originated in George White's Scandals of 1931. It was most famously recorded by Kate Smith, whose rendition was a hit in 1931,[1] and by Paul Robeson.[2][3] It was also featured in a 1931 all-star recording of a medley of songs from George White's Scandals, where it was sung by Frank Munn on Brunswick and just as famously part of Paul Whiteman medley sung by Mildred Bailey on Victor. Jimmy Durante sings the song in blackface in the 1934 film version of George White's Scandals.

The song has been described as presenting a satirical view of racism.[4]

The song is referenced in:

  • The Marx Brothers film Duck Soup, when Groucho Marx's character Rufus T. Firefly says, "My father was a little headstrong, my mother was a little armstrong. The Headstrongs married the Armstrongs, and that's why darkies were born."[4] Part of Marx's line, primarily the term "darkies," was removed from television prints of this film in the early 1970s. The full dialogue was restored in 1980 for home video releases and future broadcast syndication.
  • Gordon and Revel's satirical song "Underneath the Harlem Moon", recorded by Don Redman in 1932 and by Randy Newman in 1970, explains: "They just live for dancing, They're never blue or forlorn, Ain't no sin to laugh or grin, That's why darkies were born."
  • William Dieterle's 1936 film Satan Met a Lady, when Arthur Treacher's character Anthony Travers begins to say "That's why..." and is cut off by Warren William's character Ted Shane who says sarcastically "...darkies were born."


  1. ^ "Top Ten Hits of 1931". Retrieved 2012-10-03.
  2. ^ Paul Robeson discography
  3. ^ "Paul Robeson discography". Retrieved 2012-10-03.
  4. ^ a b Snider, Eric D. (2011-02-28). "What's the Big Deal?: Duck Soup (1933)". Retrieved 2012-10-03.