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Origin of Steppin’ and Fetchin’

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A Spotswood, Virginia, listener came across the phrase “steppin’ and fetchin'” used in a positive way to describe a speedy race run by the great horse Secretariat. But the phrase has an ugly past. To step and fetch is how many people once described the job of a slave or handyman, and Stepin Fetchit was a famous actor who often played the stereotype of the lazy black man. The documentary Ethnic Notions covers some of the history of this racially charged imagery. This is part of a complete episode.

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