Beethoven was a black man (?)

In an article in The Onion there is an interview with Garret Morris in which he makes the statement “When they show Beethoven now, they show a white guy who looks like he didn’t comb his hair. But the fact is, by the time he got to the age of 40, Beethoven not only had hair standing up like Huey Newton did in that chair, but he was so pissed off that people were trying to fuck with him that he was making sure people understood that he was not a white German.” (Bolding mine)

This is the first time that I’ve heard this statement. Is there truth to his claim?

BTW I know that “The Onion” is a satirical e-zine but the interview is sincere.

I’ve heard this theory before, and it’s been seriously proposed.

All I can connect it with is something I read once in a biography of Beethoven. His family origin was Flemish. When young Ludwig was a schoolboy the other kids nicknamed him “Little Spaniard” because of his dark complexion. Dark, that is, relative to the lily-white Germans. More Mediterranean, perhaps.

Beethoven’s ancestral land of Flanders had been occupied by the Spanish, so maybe some Spanish genes got in that way. Spain itself had been occupied by Moors from Africa for seven centuries, and they left Moorish genes in Europe. This is a very tenuous connection on which to base the assertion “Beethoven was a brother!” but I guess it’s good enough for the ideologically motivated.

Here’s some pictures of Beethoven including portraits and life masks if you want some evidence of what he looked like.

And from one of many websites on Beethoven, here’s pictures of his family including his grandfather.

It doesn’t look like anyone described as ‘black’ today was in his family for at least several generations back. And before then, it’s still only speculation. Saying that he “was not a white German” would set up a strange standard for “whiteness” that would make a white supremicist balk.

More importantly, it doesn’t make any difference. While Mr. Morris may have read this theory seriously supported somewhere, I’ve never heard that Beethoven was upset at depictions of him then (or would be upset now, were he to come back).

But I think he was in the “Book of Lists” (one of them) as a (supposed) non-Black having a Black ancestor. Also in the list was Audobon, I think.

But the book also lists “credible” cases of UFO sightings, spontaneous combustion, and stigmata (which is really interesting, considering who wrote the books).

I was in a Black Nationalist bookstore and saw a booklet “Five Presidents of the United States with Black Ancestry.” It had a picture of Warren G. Harding on the cover. I don’t remember the other presidents it cited, but objectively the case for Harding being Black is the strongest of any. He even admitted it himself: “One of my ancestors must have jumped the fence, who knows?” The theme of Harding being Black was woven into Ishmael Reed’s great surrealistic novel Mumbo Jumbo.

Well, come on, I think that everybody has some black ancestory, and I have no problem with that whatsoever. No one is of any pure race, but, that is really another OP of its own.

My question, then, rephrased, is would Beethoven, by today’s standards, be classified as Caucasian, African-American, or Other (say mix)?

Many years ago WBEZ (Chicago NPR) had a series about great African Americans. Audobon was included. There was a scene in which young Jean-Jacques’s father, speaking in a thick French accent, forbids his son from continuing his hobby.

“But papa,” replied Audobon, in a South Side Chicago accent (and not Wife’s South Side Polish accent), “I gots to paint the birds!”

Amusing if true, considering that Harding was a Klansman.

It is true, if you go back far enough, presumably everybody has “black” ancestry, since we all ultimately come from Africa.

Granted that “black,” like “white,” is a pretty arbitrary designation, I don’t think anybody before the advent of Afrocentrist lunacy would have called Beethoven “black.”

sorry to hijack, but you have got to love this painting of Beethoven’s brother.

You’d better have a cite for that or else be prepared to retract it.

On October 26, 1921, in a speech in Birmingham, Alabama, President Harding advocated civil rights for all segments of the American populace, including African Americans. Earlier, he had proposed appointing African Americans to federal positions and supported an anti-lynching bill and establishment of an interracial commission to find ways to improve race relations. Politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties had a hand in thwarting these presidential initiatives.

Look, I always support Democrats over Republicans, but facts is facts. Wilson had been the most evil racist president ever. The one good thing Harding ever done was to partly reverse the racism Wilson had institutionalized in the federal government.

I’m about as pink, pale and lilly white as it gets, but if you go back far enough, all of my ancestors came from Africa. And so did yours.

No, mine came from Minnesota. I even stayed at the house my mom was born in. Are you suggesting she was lying?

Ohhhhhhh, you mean farther back! Well, some came from Germany and some from Ireland and…Farther?

Uh, your statement is a given, except at the creationist boards. What the OP was talking about, well, is pretty obvious.

Some of my further back ancestors were tree shrews. I think they went to Minnisota.

Actually, my ancestors originated in the remnants of a supernova roughly 12.7 billion years ago. The family tree goes back even further, mind you, but the details are rather sketchy. Something about a singularity.

for Danimal to explain the “Harding was a Klansman” statement. I can’t imagine the Klan even letting a Republican join, much less a progressive (on racial matters, if nothing else) like Harding.

I did find one site which supports Danimal’s contention. It is probably the worst prose I have ever seen in my life. You must go there and read it now for the sheer … uhh, just go there.

Anyway, all the other sites I’ve seen, including the one Jomo Mojo quoted, place Harding at the opposite end of the diagram from the KKK.

I found this one on usenet:

[ref: Wade, Wyn Craig; The Fiery Cross, pp.165 (Simon and Schuster, 1987)]
Obviously that one backs up Danimal and refutes my doubts.

So why would the Klan induct a man who said:

? (American Heritage was the source for that)

Basically, I have no clue. Harding had a lot of friends even more crooked and dishonest than himself. It would be difficult to know what his true principles were … was a he a closet racist trying to endear himself to Republicans attached to the Lincoln legacy? Or was he a closet reformer trying to endear himself to politically powerful bigots?

He was a crummy enough individual that I suppose we’ll never know, but it’s still an interesting quote.

Sorry to hijack…Borris, what’s with Sean C. stuff?

Since both “Caucasian” and “African-American” are current US PC euphemisims I don’t think it’s appropriate to apply either of them to a European who died two hundred years ago.

Back to the OP…

There’s a discussion of it here:

My humble take on it: There’s just enough circumstantial evidence for people to put the claim forward, but not enough to settle the question definitely.