"Children, today I am going to teach you O DEM GOLDEN SLIPPERS". 

(Sings and teaches them to sing). 

"Not them but dem!" 


"Its a negro spiritual and must be sung like that." 

"Its so sad, Thatha!" 

"Yes, maganae. 
It echoes the heart and longing of a negro slave
He is yearning for heaven because he will be treated as human being.
He wants to be valued and be equal to everybody else!"

"Why do people make slaves of others? 
We are all God's creation!"

"I don't know!"

My paternal grandfather was a good singer and taught all his grandchildren from his rich repertoire of songs. I remember him teaching us negro spirituals and insisting on their language. This photo prompt reminded me of one of the first songs I/we learnt at his feet!

In its original form, it was a spiritual sung by black slaves to express the hope of freedom and of meeting God. 

Golden Slippers Also known as Oh, Dem Golden Slippers 1879 was a popular song commonly sung by blackface minstrel performers in the late 1800’s. Golden Slippers was written by James Bland, a black songwriter who wrote for minstrel shows. Bland was also the first man to put the 5th string on a banjo. He did very well touring Europe in 1800’s. Bland had much less success touring in the States because blacks weren’t permitted on many stages, unless it was to perform for an all-black audience.
The song’s first stanza tells of setting aside such fine clothes as golden slippers, a long-tailed coat and a white robe for a chariot ride in the morning (presumably to heaven). The song is well-known today as the unofficial theme song of the Philadelphia Mummers Parade.
Oh, my golden slippers am laid away
‘Cause I don’t spect to wear ’em til my wedding day
And my long tailed coat, that I love so well
I will wear up in the chariot in the morn.
And my long white robe that I bought last June
I’m goin’ to get changed ’cause it fits too soon
And the old grey hoss that I used to drive
I will hitch him to the chariot in the morn.
Oh, dem golden slippers
Oh, dem golden slippers
Golden slippers I’se goin’ to wear
Because they look so neat.
Oh, dem golden slippers
Oh, dem golden slippers
Golden slippers I’se goin’ to wear
To walk the golden street.
Oh, my old banjo hangs on the wall
‘Cause it ain’t been tuned since way last fall
But the darks all say we’ll have a good time
When we ride up in the chariot in the morn.
There’s ol’ brother Ben and his sister, Luce
They will telegraph the news to uncle Bacco Juice
What a great camp meetin’ there will be that day
When we ride up in the chariot in the morn.
So, it’s good-bye, children I will have to go
Where the rain don’t fall and the wind don’t blow
And yer ulster coats, why, you will not need
When you ride up in the chariot in the morn.
But yer golden slippers must be nice and clean
And yer age must be just sweet sixteen
And yer white kid gloves you will have to wear
When you ride up in the chariot in the morn.

*(Thatha – grandfather, Maganae – son in Tamil)

*Friday Fictioneers is talented group of enthusiasts penning down a story, a poem, a prose, etc., expressing their heart about a photo prompt, every week. Thanks for this week’s beautiful photo prompt © Sarah Potter

22 thoughts on “GOLDEN SLIPPERS

  1. I read this, and sang along with the song. It was a song I learned as a child, too. I love the old Negro-spirituals. One of my faves is “down to ‘de riber to pray’ (Down to the river to pray)…it was sung about the Ohio River and the cross over from Kentucky to freedom. At least, that’s what I’ve been told it was used for. So many blessed songs in that genre! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m told when I was born, the nurse didn’t like my “native” sounding name and so put a dif name on my birth certificate ‘bonnie’. And so, I spent my childhood being teased and tormented with this song to the point where I can’t stand even the first notes of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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