(If you are someone who can't read "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" without a black marker in hand, turn back now!)
1905 was a bad time to be a Black man in America.
1905 was a bad time to be a Mormon in America.
Why not write a song about it? Two enterprising songwriters decided to take a stab at simultaneously offending both the Black and Mormon communities with their 1905 minstrel toe-tapper "The Mormon Coon" (FYI the word "coon" is super-racist - thus the risk of offense. Be advised - we are using the word in an historical context.)
The song is a quirky little story of a Black man named Ephraim who relocates to Utah, where he finds happiness in marrying a bevy of wives of all shapes, sizes and colors.
To prove it, here is a picture of the actual record:
But wait! There's More! Here is the sheet music so you can play and sing along!
And the "coup de grâce" is that I have posted the actual recording for your listening pleasure...
Now for the research-y, serious part:
I discovered this while reading a fascinating article by the Incredibly Smart Martha M. Ertman of the University of Maryland School of Law entitled "Race Treason: The Untold Story of America's Ban on Polygamy" In it, she makes the case that Mormons were cast as minorities in the population, and lumped together with many other ethnic populations which were on the receiving end of tremendous racism. The Mormon persecution was more about racism, and less about religious persecution. (Waaaay oversimplified - read the whole article to understand better.)
Even the author Jack London had a character in the novel "The Jacket" say "They ain't whites, they're Mormons" - further illustrating this point. Because, if they weren't white (which these Mormons were) then those pesky laws and that freedom of religion didn't really need to be applied equally.
I read a lot, and as you probably can tell by now, I know most everything. But, this whole discussion of racism against the early Mormons was totally new to me. Take the time to read it.
The mere existence of this remarkable song is crazy - but to hear it 106 years later? That is webidiculous. ( I just made that word up. I even checked on Google: ZERO hits)
Hope you enjoyed this obscure snippet of history - some might think it too nerdy or serious, but I feel the need to help you with yer learnin'. (Because I'm thoughtful like that.)
One last thought: The tune is a little catchy - Please don't walk around church tomorrow humming it.
Webidiculous. You saw it here first.