Pittsburgh Fails History

Pittsburgh removed a monument to one of America’s great composers because its leaders either refused to consult, or are utterly ignorant of history. 

Stephen Foster was not a racist and did not write songs denigrating African/Americans.

Among the most widely repeated imaginary and false stories are these:

  • Foster was a Southerner
  • Foster wrote about the “Swanee” River and the old Kentucky home after (or while) visiting those sites
  • Foster was an idle dreamer, an untrained musical genius whose songs were flashes of inspiration
  • Foster was incapable of any kind of work, and did not have to labor at writing music
  • Foster got many of his musical ideas by listening to slaves or attending black church services and then simply writing down what he heard
  • Foster was a racist who glorified slavery and the happy life for slaves on the plantation, and who regretted the abolition of slavery

The City gets an ‘F’

History Tells Us–

  • Foster was influenced by Negro spirituals and was the first white composer to integrate that style into his music
  • Foster visited the South once…. on a riverboat
  • Foster was a lifelong friend of Pittsburgh abolitionist Charles Shiras. The two composed songs together 
  • Sculptor Giuseppe Moretti depicts Foster and a slave composing the song, “Uncle Ned,” one of the first popular Anti-Slavery songs 

1 Comment

Filed under News

One response to “Pittsburgh Fails History

  1. Dave

    Forget the songs, forget the history. Remember the songs, discuss the history.

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