Behind the Black Minstrel’s Smile

Start : 
21 Nov 2015 - 14:00
End : 
21 Nov 2015 - 15:00
Type: 
Talk
Location: 

28 York Place
Edinburgh
EH1 3EP

Previously … Scottish History Festival

Saturday night television, 1960s and the 1970s were dominated by the smiling face of the George Mitchell’s ‘Black and White Minstrel Show’. The blacked up minstrel, with his white smiling lips and highlighted eyes and those immaculate white gloved jazz hands singing ‘Swanee style’ was a figure of innocent entertainment, it seemed, harking back to a simpler time.

The last minstrel show was transmitted by the BBC in 1978, but they continued to perform live in theatres well into the 1980's. The last amateur troupe performing blacked up on stage in Scotland appeared in 2004 in Arbroath.

Groundbreaking historian Dr Eric Graham wipes away the makeup of this 'family entertainment' to reveal a story of how ‘the minstrelsy’ introduced the appalling American style racial stereotyping of the African American into Scotland in the 1840s. His thought provoking examination reveals how the inglorious minstrel shows mutated over the next hundred years, but always remained the most insidious tool of race discrimination that moulded public perceptions of race for successive generations in Scotland.

Tickets £4 - Book here.