Kate Smith

I was delighted to learn, while doing research about Kate Smith, that she was the person who brought Josephine Baker to American Television. In 1951 it was not a foregone conclusion that the incredibly brilliant Baker — who had left America to become a sensation in Europe — would be accepted in the U.S., given the state of American racism.

But Kate Smith cut through all that, inviting Baker onto her popular TV show, thereby helping to bring home one of our great American geniuses. Which sort of makes sense.

I mean, consider that about twenty years earlier Smith had performed — in parallel with the great Paul Robeson — one of the great satirical songs taking down racism. Alas, we now live in an age where the satire of another era is incomprehensible to most people.

These days we may be woke, but we sure aren’t fully awake. What can I say? God bless America.

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