Let Our School Bands Play Dixie

posted September 17, 2007

Is America still the land of the free?

If we are truly free, why is our song "Dixie" banned at many high schools and universities? Why, too, are young people taught diversity and sensitivity toward the heritage of some people but not others?

What happened to America’s grand old song "Dixie?"

Autumn is an exciting time for high school and college football. School bands will play to lift the soul but students, teachers, parents and fans will not hear "Dixie." Many of our institutions of learning have stopped playing Dixie even thought this song is loved the world over.

What happened to "Dixie" that was the official band music of the Confederate and Union Armies? What happened to this song that Northern and Southern children sang from their schools standard song book?

In 1859 Dan Emmett, the author of Dixie, first introduced his song at a minstrel show before a delighted New York audience. It is also written that a African-American family, the Snowdens, may have encouraged Emmett in his writing.

As a young boy, I remember going to the Great Southeastern Fair, in Atlanta, Georgia, and hearing "Dixie" coming from the Carousel. I also remember my teacher closing the window as the Headland High School Band rehearsed outdoors to "Dixie."

Today, men and women serve overseas to free the oppressed people of Iraq, but school bands are no longer allowed to play "Dixie" and "Under God" is under attack in the pledge of allegiance.

Country music singer Lee Greenwood, who sang "God Bless the USA" and "Dixie" may have become politically incorrect. Yes, this Northern born American included "Dixie" on his "American Patriot" CD.

There was a time not long ago when high school bands played Dixie and public prayers asked for the safety of the football players and safety of the men and women of our United States Armed Forces.

Back when prayer started a school day, streets were safer and news was not filled with murder, rape and hatred.

Imagine for a moment that you are taken back to a high school football game of that time. The prayer had been prayed and the band begins to play Dixie. There is a huge cheer that builds as this tune is played. The people rise as one to cheer and sing this song that they love.

My late friend Eddie Page always said, "Know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Eddie was a black musician, soldier and historian. He loved the USA and the American South, where he was born. He knew American history that is no longer taught. On his grave marker are the words, "Look away, Dixieland!"

Please join me in praying for our nation and write your local high school and college sports director, asking them to include "Dixie" at all school events. Are we really free?

Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
Kennesaw, Ga.

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