American Culture

TunesDay: original Faubus fables

by Djerrid

Fifty-one years ago this morning, if you stood on the steps of Little Rock High School, you could hear the angry white mob chant “Two, four, six, eight; we don’t want to integrate!”.

Arkansas’ Governor Orval Faubus was taking a stand against the Supreme Court ruling that ordered all United States public schools to racially integrate and sent the state’s National Guard to block the entrance to the school for the black students. Twenty days later on this date President Eisenhower broke the blockade and sent in the 101st Airborne Division to escort the nine students inside. Here is a short but great documentary of what happened during that month.

Two years later, jazz composer Charles Mingus tried to break new ground with a song protesting Faubus and the long inaction by Eisenhower with “Fables of Faubus“:

Actually, that song wasn’t released in its intended format for another year. Columbia Records thought that the lyrics were too racially charged for it’s audience and had the lyrics removed and the tone whitewashed. Mingus went to a smaller independent label later for that raw version to come out and called it “Original Faubus Fables”.

The lyrics don’t pull any punches as you can hear Mingus mock the chant: Two, four, six, eight; They brain-wash and teach you hate

2 replies »

  1. My lovely mother in law was one of the women who actively supported the integration of Central High School. There was a group of upper class Junior League members that broke off with the rest of the Junior League in order to support the integration of Central. My Mother in Law was one of those brave women who worked behind the scenes, badgering Faubus, Witt and Jack Stephens, and Jefferson Davis(a prominent jurist).. After the integration, they were pariahs, sent to social Siberia for about 20 years. She lost a lot of fair weather friends during that time. Her life was threatened, and there was near anarchy in the best neighborhoods, their neighborhood, in Little Rock. She has later related that those were the most exciting times of her life. Around 1977, she was able to be welcomed back into the Little Rock Country Club, Women’s Club, UDC, and DAR. It took 20 years for for her to be mostly accepted. She isn’t fully accepted, as there’s a few old grand dames who would rather cross the street than say hello to her. I feel sorry for those old Grand Dames. However, all through all of the exile, the people who shunned her still needed my father in law’s company products. They traded with him with bile coming up their throats, yet still ordered the products. My father in law was a perfect Southern Gentleman through all of this, and never made anyone feel ill at ease. He is the definition of Gallant Southern Manners. Today, in their dotage, they are writing their memoirs of that period, which will be published next year. My mother in law always says that “You can sit around and talk about a problem, or you can go out and actually do something about it.:

    What great people living their conscience, and they’ve had a helluva run..

    A lesson to us all.

    Jeff