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.