A not-quite affectionate term for negroes in the late 19th
to early 20th
century. Popularized in the cakewalk
song "Whistling Roofus." Usage in this manner dropped off after the 1920's.
(Lyrics to Whistling Rufus)
would go to a ball or a party,
Rainy weather or shine,
And when he got there
was a handsome nigger
the chicken and the wine.
And when he got through with
the chicken and the wine,
Then he whistled and he sung so grand
That they thought the angels' harps was a-playing.
And they called him the one-band
(Chorus): Don't make
no blunder, they couldn't lose
For perfect wonder they had to choose him;
A great musician with
a high position
Was whistling Rufus, the one-band