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Stephen Foster

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Blackface Minstrelsy

Blackface minstrelsy performerLearn more about the history and legacy of the blackface minstrel show in these excerpts of interviews with historians Dale Cockrell, Eric Lott, Deane Root, Fath Ruffins, and Josephine Wright, writers Ken Emerson and Mel Watkins, and performers Nanci Griffith and Thomas Hampson.

  1. How did blackface minstrelsy begin?
  2. Why did it spread in the 1830s?
  3. What was a blackface minstrel show?
  4. Who went to the shows?
  5. How were the minstrel shows racist?
  6. Was blackface minstrelsy only about caricaturing blacks?
  7. How did class frictions relate to blackface minstrelsy?
  8. How did class issues relate to the race issues?
  9. Although blackface minstrelsy was racist, did it have any benefit for African Americans?
  10. What's the connection between blackface minstrelsy and rock and roll?
  11. What legacy did blackface minstrelsy create for American culture today?
  12. Should we change Foster's songs to remove their racist aspects, or not perform them?

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