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The Black Fables Walt Disney Rewrote for Fun and Profit

Black History Quiz
The Black Fables Walt Disney Rewrote for Fun and Profit
By Jim Stroud • Issue #98 • View online
Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays at 7:30 am EST. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

Walt Disney himself borrowed from famous authors all the time, among them Hans Christian Anderson, Brothers Grimm and De La Fontaine to name a few. He did not hide that fact but instead gave credit where credit was due. At least 2 of his works were based on fables created by a famous black author, although history tried its best to obscure that fact. Here are the 2 stories.
Peter and the Wolf (Originally named, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”)
And, the “Tortoise and the Hare.”
QUIZ: Can you name the black author of these stories?
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BLACK HISTORY QUIZ ANSWER
The author of those stories was Aesop, a black storyteller, who was born in the year 620. Walt Disney paid tribute to him in the film below, although his African lineage is obscured. He correctly cites him as a slave but, his skin color is not accurate.
From Aesop to Hans Christian Andersen - Walt Disney's Disneyland (1955)
From Aesop to Hans Christian Andersen - Walt Disney's Disneyland (1955)
Aesop was a Black slave of Iadmon, located in the south of Greece near northern Africa. Most accounts describe Aesop as a deformed man whose name came from the Greek word “Aethiops” which means Ethiopia.
According to Herodotus, he lived in Samos in the 6th century BC and eventually was freed by his master, receiving his liberation in Iadmon. Other accounts connect him with many wild adventures and attach him with such rulers as Solon and Croesus.
The first extensive translation of Aesop into Latin was done by Phaedrus, a freedman of Augustus in the first century AD. The first printed version of Aesop’s Fables in English was published on March 26, 1484, by William Caxton. William Dugard translated his stories from the Greek text of Planudes in 1715. There he also describes Aesop as one whom “Nature had gratified with an ingenious mind, but the Law had enslaved.” Physically he had a large head, bowed legs, and a large belly.*
Was Aesop black? He certainly thought so.
Below is a porcelain representation of Aesop. Credit: Great Britain, Chelsea Porcelain Factory. Aesop, circa 1755. 
Aesop, circa 1755
Aesop, circa 1755
Here is a quote from The Root, concerning Aesop, who was once a slave.
Responding to an inquiry from a potential buyer, Aesop stated: “I am a Negro.” Yet in the accompanying illustrations he is not clearly black. The unambiguous representation of Aesop as a black occurs when the modelers of the Chelsea porcelain factory elaborated on this image as the basis for their ceramic figurine of Aesop. Its appearance in the mid-18th century on the dining tables of wealthy English homes therefore presented a truly novel, vibrant image of the ancient sage.**
Sources:
* 1001 things everyone should know about African American History by Jeffery C. Stewart, Copyright 1996, DoubleDay - ISBN 0-385-47309-5
**Aesop: Black, as Fabled? https://archive.is/XYgpq
Further study:
Aesop’s Fables (84 Fables) by Aesop https://buff.ly/3xpQQSy
World’s Great Men of Color, Volume I: Asia and Africa, and Historical Figures Before Christ, Including Aesop, Hannibal, Cleopatra, Zenobia, Askia the Great, and Many Others by J.A. Rogers https://buff.ly/2QkQnjP
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Jim Stroud

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays at 7:30 am EST. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

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