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?
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.
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).
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.