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.