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Blackface Minstrelsy in Modern America (Links to an external site.)

Go to the website (also located in Modules) and review the following materials (total of about 16 very short pages, 2 audio files, 5 images):

  • Lakisha Odlum's introduction (click "Show Full Overview")
  • Excerpt from Thomas Nelson Page's The Negro: A Southerner's Problem
  • Poster advertising Neil O'Brien and the Great American Super-Minstrels
  • Pamphlet announcing performance by The Original New Orleans Minstrels
  • Photograph of a blackface acting troupe in Texas
  • Excerpt from The Complete Minstrel Guide 
  • Excerpt from The Darkey Drama (you only need to skim this)
  • Audio recording of The Peerless Minstrels
  • Photograph of Bert Williams (out of costume)
  • Photograph of Bert Williams in blackface
  • Audio recording of Bert Williams singing "Nobody Abyssinia" 
  • Draft eulogy written by W.E.B. Dubois about Bert Williams 

Answer the following questions (). Each of your 3 answers should be about oneparagraph (threeto four sentence) long. Spend time studying the materials and considering your answers before you begin to write. Use complete sentences.

  1. Using the collection of minstrel shows excerpted from The Darkey Drama, the poster advertising Neil O'Brien and the Great American Super-Minstrels, and the audio recording of The Peerless Minstrels, describe some of the ways African Americans were represented in blackface minstrel shows.

a. What stereotypes do you see in these performances?

2 .One of Du Bois's most famous quotations about the experience of African Americans in the United States, from his book The Souls of Black Folk, states, "One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder." Review the photograph of Bert Williams, the publicity portrait of Bert Williams, and the draft eulogy written by W. E. B. Du Bois. Analyze the relationship between the images and Du Bois's quotation from The Souls of Black Folk.


a. Which image represents what it meant to be an "American" during that era?

c. Which one represents what it meant to be a "Negro" during that era?

d. How do the images reflect the "two warring ideals" Du Bois speaks of?

c. How does the eulogy comment on the double consciousness Williams dealt with?

3-Read pages 7-10 of the excerpt from Thomas Nelson Page's The Negro: A Southerner's Problem.


a. What does this text reveal about the tension between white Northerners and white Southerners after the Civil War?

b. Why does Page believe that the white Southerners understood African Americans best? c. According to Page, why do Northerners not trust Southerners?

d. What do you think about the argument Page makes regarding "respectable" African Americans and those who are not "respectable"?

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