Social History for Every Classroom


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"The Black KPs"

"The Black KPs" was written by Charles Hillman and Sidney L. Perrin in 1898 to bolster the domestic support for the war in the Philippines. While the sentiment behind the song was considered patriotic, the language in the lyrics are unmistakably racist.

There will be a demonstration, decked with pompous ostentation by the black K.P.’s of this great nation
Noted coons of high connection, irrespective of complection,
Have been sent to grace this celebration.
Coons in rarest paraphernalia,
Gay plumed hats and loud regalia,
Representing knights of bravery.
Splendor or rare exception will be the vogue
With these proud distinguished black K.P.s

When those brave black "knights" who are so bold
Come prancing down the streets with swords of Klondike gold
In costumes gorgeous to behold, a sight one seldom sees!
Fifty coon brass bands will be in line and each will play the latest music in ragtime
Proud plumed darkies looking fine,
Will shine while marching in the black K.P.s!

Source | Charles Hillman and Sidney L. Perrin, "The Black KPs", song and illustration (Chicago: M. Witmark & Sons, 1898), from Brown University Libraries, African American Sheet Music,
Creator | Charles Hillman and Sidney Perrin
Composer | Sidney L. Perrin
Lyricist | Charles Hillman
Publisher | M. Witmark & Sons
Item Type | Music/Song
Cite This document | Charles Hillman and Sidney Perrin, “"The Black KPs",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed February 25, 2024,

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