Song dropped from Iowa school concert list over lyrics complaint

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A suburban Des Moines school has dropped the song "Pick a Bale of Cotton" from its concert list after a parent complained that the song's lyrics are racist.

Bernice Thompson told The Des Moines Register that she contacted West Des Moines Community Schools officials two weeks ago after her seventh-grade daughter, Taishon Graham, told her she didn't want to sing it at the Indian Hills Junior High School spring concert.

Taishon, who is black, says the song saddened her "because you want to sing happy songs at a spring concert, not songs about picking cotton."

The song's edited lyrics include the line, "Gonna jump down/ Turn around/ Pick a bale of cotton/ Gonna jump down/ Turn around/ Pick a bale a day." The original lyrics included a racial epithet.

School district spokesman Aaron Young says the school principal and choir director decided to pull the song from the concert selections.

In 2005 the song was pulled from a high school music program in a Detroit suburb after similar complaints.