September 27, 2019 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Overby Auditorium
Afton Thomas

Professor Rhae Lynn Barnes, the foremost expert on amateur blackface minstrelsy, has spent more than a decade cataloging 10,000 minstrel plays. This lecture will contextualize the recent blackface scandals in Mississippi by examining the central role amateur blackface minstrel shows played in the United States government. In the century spanning the end of the Civil War to the birth of the Civil Rights Movement (an era called “Jim Crow,” after the first blackface character), the American government refocused domestic and foreign policy to federalize, finance, distribute, codify, and produce racist amateur blackface music and plays in public schools, the military, and everyday American life as an expression of patriotic duty and as a way to test readiness for American citizenship.