By Karen Sotiropoulos

Staging Race casts a focus at the iteration of black artists who got here of age among 1890 and global struggle I in an period of Jim Crow segregation and heightened racial tensions. As public leisure improved via vaudeville, minstrel exhibits, and world's festivals, black performers, just like the level duo of Bert Williams and George Walker, used the conventions of blackface to seem in entrance of, and entice, white audiences. even as, they communicated a leitmotif of black cultural humor and political remark to the black audiences segregated in balcony seats. With ingenuity and innovation, they enacted racial stereotypes onstage whereas hoping to unmask the fictions that upheld them offstage. Drawing greatly on black newspapers and observation of the interval, Karen Sotiropoulos indicates how black performers and composers participated in a politically charged debate in regards to the function of the expressive arts within the fight for equality. regardless of the racial violence, disenfranchisement, and the segregation of just about all public house, they used America's new companies of well known leisure as cars for his or her personal creativity and as spheres for political engagement. the tale of ways African american citizens entered the level door and remodeled pop culture is a mostly untold tale. even though eventually not able to erase racist stereotypes, those pioneering artists introduced black tune and dance into America's mainstream and helped to spur racial development. (20060713)

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Extra resources for Staging Race: Black Performers in Turn of the Century America

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Its short sketches avoided the bawdiness of burlesque, making it cheap and accessible “family” entertainment. 42 The Creole Show was one of the first shows produced along these lines and featuring a black cast. Over several years of touring, the Creole Show produced nearly forty ac{37} Minstrel Men and the World’s Fair tors who became stars. While no direct evidence exists that Paul Laurence Dunbar, Will Marion Cook, James Weldon Johnson, or George Walker saw the production, they would soon be combining their talents with several Creole Show artists, including Bob Cole, Irving Jones, and Jesse Shipp.

Douglass had won large white audiences over the course of the nineteenth century, and indisputably held court at the Haitian pavilion, but he was nearing the end of his life at the time of the fair. Wells, born in 1862, had launched her antislavery campaign in the early 1890s and was far more attuned to the political culture of Jim Crow. Even more attentive to the rapid changes of urban industrial society were many black artists. The most successful part of Colored American Day was the program of poetry and music, with Dunbar and Burleigh both garnering much applause.

This poem, not unlike Wells’s pamphlet, makes a claim to African American rights to citizenship: And their deeds shall find a record In the registry of Fame; For their blood has cleansed completely Every blot of Slavery’s shame. So all honor and all glory To those noble sons of Ham The gallant colored soldiers Who fought for Uncle Sam! ” When he spoke, some whites in the audience heckled him when it became clear this was not the minstrel show they had hoped to see. When the jeers and catcalls did not cease, Douglass pushed aside the speech and bellowed: “We fought for your country.

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