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Charcoal Faced White Men To a few nineteenth-century Americans brass bands and modest singing women were the only true American drama Blacking Up Pg 1 Most people simply enjoyed the nigger minstrel shows that featured white men dressed in ragged clothes black painted faces and the ability to somewhat sing and talk like an African-American These shows covered America from Niagara Falls to the Gulf Coast and from Catalina Island to Virginia Beach For more than half a century they continued as popular entertainment for the nation Black minstrels were among one of the first entertainers that deeply embedded and shaped the African culture into the fibers of American life As part of the great significance of these shows some vital questions are brought to attention Why were they popular for so long Why were they not seen as racism How did minstrel shows shape the white perception of African-Americans These shows were more than inch-thick entertainment they helped shape the future American identity by changing the perception of slaves Blacking Up pg1-50 The basic black minstrels of the time usually had three main characters A few famous roles were Zip Coon a lazy overdramatic black Jim Crow a more hearty and quick-witted man and Mr Tambo who usually represented the culture of African-Americans White actors and play writers would study the main aspects of slaves such as dialect fashion actions and sermons They would use black face paint dress in rags and shuffle around stage waving and hollering in portrayal of a black man Most minstrel shows traveled from town to town like a circus or carnival The actors would use old black tunes and dances to liven up their crowds then would do a two-act play These plays usually poked fun at the black culture and way of life and since most people owned a slave it acted as reason to continue dominion over them The show had to me no peer
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