This article looks at the movie that was such a delight when it was released, and discussed some of the issues related to it, especially some of the controversial ones.
The most controversial scene in "Dumbo" involves the little elephant and Timothy's encounter with a group of crows in a tree high above the ground. The five crows, who are incredulous of Timothy's claim that he and Dumbo flew up to a high tree branch, are presented as black males. They all speak in a combination of jive slang and African-American dialect. The lead bird is named Jim Crow and his voice was provided by a white actor, Cliff Edwards; the other crows were voiced by members of an African-American vocal group, the Hall Johnson Choir.
In his book "The Disney Films," Leonard Maltin defends this scene. "The crows are undeniably black," Maltin writes, "but they are black characters, not black stereotypes. There is no denigrating dialogue, or Uncle Tomism in the scene." In the DVD commentary, historian Sigman states that the scene "wasn't meant in any way to be derogatory." And it is noted that the crows become Dumbo's enthusiastic supporters and it is Jim Crow who comes up with the idea of the "magic feather" that enables Dumbo to gain the courage to fly.
Maybe it's time to have a "Dumbo" party and see this movie again.