That's Why Darkies Were Born

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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 was written as a satirical view of racism:

Someone had to pick the cotton,
Someone had to pick the corn,
Someone had to slave and be able to sing,
That's why darkies were born.[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."[5] The audio portion 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."


  1. ^ "Top Ten Hits of 1931". Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  2. ^ Paul Robeson discography
  3. ^ "Paul Robeson discography". Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  4. ^ American History in Song: Lyrics from 1900 to 1945
  5. ^ Snider, Eric D. (2011-02-28). "What's the Big Deal?: Duck Soup (1933)". Retrieved 2012-10-03.