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Reckoning with the true story of "My Old Kentucky Home"


Amid the racial justice protests of 2020 a number of demonstrators demanded that the Kentucky Derby be called off. While the event went on, the performance of “My Old Kentucky Home” was modified. A solo bugler performed the song, without lyrics.

Kentucky’s state song was written by composer Stephen Foster in 1853 and has come under controversy. As historian Emily Bingham explains, the song presents slavery as carefree while also telling the story of a man sold down the river. For years the song was sung by white men in blackface at minstrel shows, according to Bingham.

In her new book, My Old Kentucky Home, Bingham explores the history of the song that is sung by tens of thousands of fans of the Derby. Emily Bingham joins Cincinnati Edition to discuss her book.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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