Drawing extensively on black newspapers and commentary of the period, Karen Sotiropoulos shows how black performers and composers participated in a politically charged debate about the role of the expressive arts in the struggle for equality. Despite the racial violence, disenfranchisement, and the segregation of virtually all public space, they used America's new businesses of popular entertainment as vehicles for their own creativity and as spheres for political engagement.
The story of how African Americans entered the stage door and transformed popular culture is a largely untold story. Although ultimately unable to erase racist stereotypes, these pioneering artists brought black music and dance into America's mainstream and helped to spur racial advancement.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Politics, Not Minstrelsy
1. Minstrel Men and the World's Fair
2. Vaudeville Stages and Black Bohemia
3. The "Coon Craze" and the Search for Authenticity
4. "No Place Like Home": Africa on Stage
5. Morals, Manners, and Stage Life
6. Black Bohemia Moves to Harlem
Coda: Hokum Redux
What People are Saying About This
Karen Sotiropoulos tells the riveting story of a group of black intellectuals who challenged social Darwinism, imperialism, segregation and promoted a discourse of black nation-building. Brilliantly written and conceived, Staging Race will force us all to rethink early 20th century black musical theater, as well as black political thought during the so-called "nadir" of African American history.
Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination