The other day a customer and I were discussing how we are so tired of political correctness! As I explained in a previous post, HAHN INDUSTRIES has been manufacturing the ‘Jocko’ Jockey Boy statue since 1960. I’ve had many customers ask me, “aren’t you afraid to be selling such a racist statue?” My answer to them is always emphaticly the same, “NO… The Jockey Boy is not a symbol of RACISM!” I proceed to explain the following… “Some people say this story is urban legend, others say it is true”. I hand them our pre-printed card and tell them, “decide for yourself”…
The Legend of the Lawn Jockey
The story begins the blistery winter night in December 1776 when General George Washington decided to cross the Delaware River to launch a surprise attack on the British forces in Trenton.
Jocko Graves was twelve-years old and the son of a free black man. Jocko wanted to go along with General Washington to fight the Redcoats. Washington told Jocko he was too young and ordered him to watch over the horses and keep a lantern blazing along the shore of the Delaware River. This is how he could help so the company would know where to return after the battle. Many hours later, Washington and his men returned. They saw the light but found Graves had frozen to death with the lantern still clenched in his fist.
General Washington was so moved by the young boy’s devotion to the revolutionary cause he commissioned a statue of the ‘Faithful Groomsman’ to place in Grave’s honor at the General’s estate in Mount Vernon.
The following is fact
Similar cast-iron statues began appearing in the decades after Washington’s crossing of the Delaware in jockey silks, whether for aesthetic reasons or confusion borrowed from Jocko’s name. The clothing worn by the lawn jockeys resembled the clothes worn by black riding jockeys, who have a glorious history. In 1875, the first 13 winners of the Kentucky Derby were black.
By the time of the Civil War, these ‘Jocko’ statues could be found on plantations throughout the South. Like the North Star that pointed fleeing slaves to their freedom, the Jocko statue’s arm pointed to the safe houses of the Underground Railroad. Along the Mississippi River, a green ribbon tied to the arm indicated safety; a red ribbon meant danger.
Therefore, contrary to some folk’s thinking these statues are a racial slur, they are a memorial to Jocko Graves, a beacon for Freedom and a tribute to some of the greatest Jockeys racing has ever known. That’s Not Racist!