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What is the real history of lawn jockeys? What do they represent today?

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firedupdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-22-09 09:57 PM
Original message
What is the real history of lawn jockeys? What do they represent today?
I've googled and come up with all sorts of explanations. If I see one in a yard.....like across the street, what should I think of the occupants of that household? It's a white one but still? :shrug:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawn_jockey
A lawn jockey, also commonly known as a "Yardell," is a small statue of a man in jockey clothes, intended to be placed in yards. Most today are white jockeys, but historically black jockeys were commonplace. The lawn ornament, popular in certain parts of the United States in years past, was a cast replica, usually about half-scale, of a Black man dressed in jockey's clothing and holding up one hand as though taking the reins of a horse. The hand sometimes carries a lantern or a metal ring suitable for hitching a horse. Two traditional lawn jockey styles are produced, commonly known as "jocko" and "cavalier spirit". The former is of stockier build, with a hunched posture; the latter is generally slender and erect. Typically these statues are made of concrete but are also made of other materials such as poly resin and aluminum or cast iron. Despite being controversial, lawn jockeys are still in demand. Both styles are still manufactured and sold.

The African-American lawn jockeys often had exaggerated features, such as big eyes with the whites painted in, large red lips, large, flat nose and curly hair. These pieces were typically painted in gaudy colors for the uniform, with the flesh of the statue a gloss black. These statues are widely considered offensive and racially insensitive and many remaining samples have now been repainted using pink paint for the skin while the original sculpture's exaggerated features remain.

However, some accounts of the figure's origin cause some to see the statue as representing a hero of African American history and culture. According to the River Road African American Museum the figure originated in commemoration of heroic dedication to duty: "It is said that the 'lawn jockey' actually has its roots in the tale of one Jocko Graves, an African-American youth who served with General George Washington at the time that he crossed the Delaware to carry out his surprise attack on British forces at Trenton, NJ. The General thought him too young to take along on such a dangerous attack, so left him on the Pennsylvania side to tend to the horses and to keep a light on the bank for their return. So the story goes, the boy, faithful to his post and his orders, froze to death on the river bank during the night, the lantern still in his hand. The General was so much moved by the boy's devotion to his duty that he had a statue sculpted and cast of him, holding the lantern, and had it installed at his Mount Vernon estate. He called the sculpture 'The Faithful Groomsman'." The most frequently-cited source for the story is Kenneth W. Goings in "Mammy and Uncle Mose" (Indiana University Press), though he regards it as apocryphal. The story was told as well in a 32 page children's book by Earl Kroger Sr., "Jocko: A Legend of the American Revolution." Moreover, there is a 13-page typescript titled "A Horse for the General: The Story of Jocko Graves" by Thomas William Halligan in the archives of the Alaska Pacific University/ University of Alaska-Anchorage consortium library <1>

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Fire1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. Well, there are mixed feelings about the significance of
the statue. One being, that it is part of AA history, specifically, the Underground Railroad. It served to distinquish "safe houses" from those that were not abolitionists. OTOH, it serves as a reminder of a painful past much like the wooden Indian used to advertise cigars on storefronts. So, I guess it's all in one's perspective.

Personally, I would question the motives of a white person planting that statue on their front lawn.
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Fire1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 02:52 PM
Response to Original message
2. I also see where your neightbors have painted their
statue white or pink flesh. If the statue is a painted "jocko," I have to say I'd still be offended. If NOT, and it's clearly "cavalier," I think I could live with it.
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firedupdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 03:58 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I've been here a year and I have kept pretty much to myself...
I work 50 mns away and of course we are the only black people around. A family moved in across the street and I saw that thing planted in the front yard. I don't know where they are from, and will probably never see them, but it truly made me wonder the motivation.
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 05:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Ahhh. Now I'm starting to understand why you asked this question
My poor, sweet firedup. :hug:

How long do you think you guys will be in Nebraska??
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firedupdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. My youngest is a jr this year. As soon as he graduates, I'm outta
this town! Lincoln or Omaha are fine for me...but not where I am currently. Pray I can make it 2 yrs!

My life....Chicago, Detroit, .....nebraska! yikes! LOL!

I feel much better now that I'm working and getting out of the house, but yeah...I'm a city girl.
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Number23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Well, I know I've teased you in a few of our 2 million PMs about thinking about you
Edited on Sun Aug-23-09 08:48 PM by Number23
every time I see a haystack, but I admire you for doing what's best and what's right for your family. Not everyone is brave enough to step out of their comfort zone, let alone go to Nebraska (NEBRASKA!!) to do right by their family.

Stay strong, girl. :fistbump:
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SemiCharmedQuark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-27-09 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. OMG, I know exactly how you feel. I'm from Chicago, but I go to school in Indiana.
It's KILLING me. I stay in Indiana during the week and go back home to Chicago on the weekends. It's less than 40 minutes difference but a world away.
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firedupdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. My youngest is a jr this year. As soon as he graduates, I'm outta
this town! Lincoln or Omaha are fine for me...but not where I am currently. Pray I can make it 2 yrs!

My life....Chicago, Detroit, .....nebraska! yikes! LOL!

I feel much better now that I'm working and getting out of the house, but yeah...I'm a city girl.
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