For a century and a half, white men “blacking up” and performing as blackface minstrels drew eager audiences to Adirondack halls and stages. Writer and independent scholar Amy Godine tracks the long uneasy history of this unabashedly racialized performance style from its antebellum introduction as a big-city circus act to its later revival as a locally-produced nostalgia act in Adirondack towns and cities.
Even into the 1960s, and long after blackface was widely recognized as racist, hometown blackface flourished on Adirondack stages. (Iterations still crop up in North Country college campuses.)
In a presentation coming up Thursday, Aug. 20 at 6 p.m., Godine explores the tenacious roots, representations and consequences of this toxic tradition in Adirondack life.
Independent scholar Amy Godine has been delving into Adirondack social history for thirty years. Her articles in Adirondack Life have explored vigilante culture, labor uprisings, poorhouses, the stories of Chinese, Spanish, Jewish immigrants and migratory labor, Black Adirondack history, and racist influences in the early conservation movement. She is the writer/curator of Dreaming of Timbuctoo, an exhibition on view at the John Brown Farm Historic Site in North Elba, about a Black Adirondack farm settlement before the Civil War.
Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake has collaborated with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI) and the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) to present a series of powerful, online programs focusing on The Black Experience in the Adirondacks.
This event is part of a larger Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI) antiracism education and mobilization effort that includes an Antiracism 101 web series, workshops, town hall meetings with elected officials, and public policy mobilization. For more information on these programs, visit: www.diversityadk.org.
You people gotta drag race into everything.
jeez Glen, so I take it you won’t be going to the presentation? Did you catch this line “Explore the tenacious roots…”.
Just here to provide a positive comment! As a reminder so Melissa doesn’t have to say it: let us not feed the trolls…
Thanks Amy and all for putting this presentation together. This is history that is impossible to ignore, and anyone who thinks it should not be taught and understood is doing the region a grave disservice.
And amazingly, it’s not the only anti-racist virtual program that evening! This squeaks in just before NCCC’s John Brown part 2 lecture – hopefully I will be able to make both!
Here’s the link to NCCC’s series: https://www.nccc.edu/news-events/august-summer-series.html
Thanks for the head’s up, Vanessa!
I have two early 20th Century photo postcards depicting black faces performers. One in E’Town and one in Placid. If Amy Godine would like scans, I would be happy to provide the.
I’m sorry for this delayed response. Just saw this!
I would of course love your scans of your two images. My email address is email@example.com. If you missed the talk at the Experience, I think it’s on their website and zoomable online.
Thanks very much,
Hey! Let’s get governor northram from Virginia to come up and speak on the subject!?!,
Oh, so not necessary. We should stop dwelling on the past, and judging what our ancestors did in the context of how things are now. This just fuels anger and resentment. Let’s look to the future and stop moaning about the past.
I wish that I had seen the notice about the lecture earlier. It happened last month. As you may know, I have done research on this topic in North Country communities. I am very interested in what you had to say. Best Regards, Dr. Susan Hurley-Glowa