“Babes on Broadway” was a movie musical starring then-teenagers Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. In the scene, Judy performs with a Lena Horne type of beauty and moderated blackface. However, Mickey wears gross minstrel make-up and gives an exaggerated song and dance performance typically accepted at that time.
If there were any protests at the time about that blackface scene more than 75 years ago, they were totally ignored by the public and media. It could have been because it happened at a historic moment when Americans had other critical problems to face.
The movie debuted in New York City on New Year’s Eve 1941, just three weeks after the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A few days after that horrific event, Germany also declared war on the U.S. The festivities on Broadway for the new movie were tempered by a nation of shocked Americans. Along with the anger, they were beginning to realize they desperately needed to strive together to win World War 2.
Unfortunately, later history features only our frustrating and divisive involvement in wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. Tragically, World War 2 was the last that ended in unquestioned American victory.
It would be a great benefit to all of us today if some of that World War 2 spirit of banding together for a common goal were to be revived. We should not be rioting, tearing down flags, looting our neighborhoods nor fomenting racial divisiveness.
Instead, it’s time to treat each other with respect and consideration as non-hyphenated, gender-accepting, unprejudiced Americans. As we celebrate Independence Day, we should appreciate our freedom and responsibility to maintain it for everyone throughout our great country.