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Stephen Foster

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Blackface Minstrelsy

Although blackface minstrelsy was racist, did it have any benefit for African Americans?

Mel Watkins:
Mel Watkins On stage you had white performers saying, "Okay, we accept this type of music, we accept the antic performers," and even though it was done in a ridiculing manner, there was some acceptance -- at least on stage. And by the 1860s black performers [were] going on the stage themselves and performing in a similar manner. Because basically when the black performers did minstrel shows, they were doing the same acts that whites had done before. It was necessary for them -- it was necessary for them to do that to be on stage. Otherwise, they would not have been allowed there. Gradually, they would change it, they would make modifications.

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