In a Simple Lawn Ornament, Echoes of Slavery, Revolution
Plaster saints -- we know what those stand for. On a more whimsical note, the same goes for the garden gnome, the stag, the Dutch girl with the fishing rod.
But the lawn jockey? He's a ghost from the days of plantations and magnolias, fox hunts and manorial estates.
To some, particularly African Americans, the lawn jockey is a pint-size monument to repugnant stereotypes, a holdover from the days of slavery and Jim Crow, an artifact of racial prejudice alongside Aunt Jemima.
But others, including some historians and collectors of African American memorabilia, say the lawn jockey has been misunderstood. They say his origins can be traced to a legend of faithful duty during the American Revolution. They say he guided slaves to freedom on the underground railroad. His appearance has evolved over time, reflecting changes in the stature of blacks in U.S. society.
comments powered by Disqus
Michael Finn - 9/18/2006
I worked for a large midwest department store. Located inside the downtown store was a restaurant. Outside the entrance to the restraunt was an ornamental lawn jockey. The jockey was white, not black. This was because in the late 1960s the construction paint shop had gotten an urgent call from the chief executive officer of the store to go to the restaurant and paint the black jockey white. Someone had complained. For many years after that the white jockey stayed and greeted many customers to the restaurant.
- New museum in Poland -- the grandest space created since 1989 -- tells the story of the Jews
- Lewinsky mistreated by authorities in investigation of Clinton, report says
- Scientists Say Proof Of Jack The Ripper's Identity Is Fatally Flawed
- Memorial for black Revolutionary War soldiers finds spot on Mall after 30 years
- Sherlock Holmes star to feature in a new movie about Alan Turning
- How Laurel Thatcher Ulrich caught up with the past
- Postal Workers Take on Harvard President, historian Drew Faust
- Symposium held in honor of John D’Emilio
- Thousands of Historic Archives from British Asylums to Go Online
- American Studies Association boycott of Israel: Conservatives say it’s weakening