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Plymouth Rock: Did Malcolm X Lift A Line From Cole Porter?

 

I was listening a few days ago to Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.

Here are the first few lines from that famous song written in 1934—

Times have changed,
And we’ve often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock,
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
If today,
Any shock they should try to stem,
‘Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them.

Now here is Malcolm’s famous line about Plymouth Rock–

We’re not Americans, we’re Africans who happen to be in America. We were kidnapped and brought here against our will from Africa. We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock–that rock landed on us”   

Hmmmm. Do you think Malcolm sat around listening to Cole Porter? You never know.

I’ve seen Plymouth Rock a few times. Though if you’ve seen it once, you’ve covered it for a lifetime. You’re seeing it in the photo above.

Here is a link to a Malcolm X reading list.

Here is a link to a Cole Porter reading list.

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October 23, 2007 - Posted by | Colonial America, Martin & Malcolm, Music | , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. I read the Malcolm X autobiography some years ago, though I was a Republican then. It still made quite an impact on me though.

    Comment by Whosplayin | October 23, 2007

  2. The imagery is Biblical,

    Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust — Luke 20:18

    Jesus is referring to Himself as “that stone.”

    Comment by Laz | October 23, 2007

  3. Whosplayin—The Black Muslim message of self-reliance and restraint in personal conduct has some Republican followers. I recall a follower of the Nation of Islam in Cincinnati who ran for office as a Republican.

    Laz—You could be right, but I’m not sure Cole Porter was a churchgoer.

    Thanks for both comments.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | October 23, 2007

  4. Without further research I’d give way more weight to him referencing Anything Goes than the Bible. First off, landing on Plymouth Rock is standard American History and not a reference to Luke. And it’s particularly symbolic of the whitest of Americans, the blue bloods who could claim descent from the Mayflower, versus the way in which most Africans arrived. But maybe Cole Porter was the first to refer to the rock landing on someone. I think Malcolm X was brilliantly referencing the Cole Porter line and raising it to a brilliant story.

    Comment by Jim | January 20, 2010

  5. In Cole Porter’s day, regardless of any decline in church-going, knowledge of Biblical references was commonplace in the UK – and I’m sure more so in the US. (Try googling “But if not” + Dunkirk.) I’m sure Cole Porter was aware of the image in Luke’s Gospel.

    But I guess Malcolm X would have had the American history reference in mind, rather than the Gospel or Cole Porter.

    Comment by Komla Nokwe | May 24, 2010

  6. I also just came to this realization as well!!

    Comment by Jesse | March 8, 2012

  7. I heard the Cole Porter song again a few days and first thought of Native American reaction to the lyrics and then wondered if Malcolm had heard the song. It seems highly probable he heard the song and read the bible verse. He was, after all, well read and churched in his lifetime.

    Comment by Tm Crawford | February 3, 2013

  8. Nice question. But doesn’t the idea of pilgrim fathers landing on Plymouth Rock predate Cole Porter?

    Comment by aBritBoy | April 9, 2014


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