In 1939, when the United States was rife with various forms of white-supremacist ideology, when segregation was still legal, and “America Firster” sloganeering dominated the media, outside observers would be struck by a paradox. For all the ranting and raving about those who were not “real” Americans (meaning that they weren’t white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants), the United States was already quite unique among the nations of the world. It was clearly, as Walt Whitman had so eloquently put it, “a nation of many nations,” a society where those “of every hue and caste . . . of every rank and religion” were represented. That diversity was the theme of a stirring cantata, written and sung as a counter to the homegrown racist bigots. Called “Ballad for Americans,” it was made famous by the great African American singer and civil rights champion Paul Robeson.