*

*
© Robert Sommers 2019

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Minstrel show



Al Jolson had a tremendous relationship with the black community. He championed their cause and was credited with fighting against discrimination against African Americans on Broadway as early as 1911.

From Wiki: While growing up, Jolson had many black friends, including Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who became a prominent tap dancer. As early as 1911, at the age of 25, Jolson was noted for fighting discrimination on Broadway and later in his movies. He promoted a play by Garland Anderson which became the first production with an all-black cast produced on Broadway. He brought a black dance team from San Francisco that he tried to put in a Broadway show.; He demanded equal treatment for Cab Calloway, with whom he performed duets in the movie The Singing Kid.
Jolson read in the newspaper that songwriters Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, neither of whom he had ever heard of, were refused service at a Connecticut restaurant because of their race. He tracked them down and took them out to dinner, "insisting he'd punch anyone in the nose who tried to kick us out!"According to biographer Al Rose, Jolson and Blake became friends and went to boxing matches together.
Film historian Charles Musser notes, "African Americans' embrace of Jolson was not a spontaneous reaction to his appearance in talking pictures. In an era when African Americans did not have to go looking for enemies, Jolson was perceived a friend."
According to music historians Bruce Crowther and Mike Pinfold: "During his time he was the best known and most popular all-around entertainer America (and probably the world) has ever known, captivating audiences in the theatre and becoming an attraction on records, radio, and in films. He opened the ears of white audiences to the existence of musical forms alien to their previous understanding and experience... and helped prepare the way for others who would bring a more realistic and sympathetic touch to black musical traditions." Black songwriter Noble Sissle, in the 1930s, said "[h]e was always the champion of the Negro songwriter and performer, and was first to put Negroes in his shows". Of Jolson's "Mammy" songs, he adds, "with real tears streaming down his blackened face, he immortalized the Negro motherhood of America as no individual could."

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha. Nice try.

Blue Heron said...

nice try at what?

Jon Harwood said...

At the risk of being accused of being the creator of “kiss ass” comments, I think that the story illustrates the need for nuance when deciding what to do about racism. It is a voice in the wilderness, in our brickbat tossing climate. For the foreseeable future it will be “It’s racist kill it and it’s children right now! vs. It’s a vast conspiracy to afflict the white man. More choppy weather ahead.

Blue Heron said...

I post a simple story about Al Jolson and people assume that I am making a statement of some kind.

Jon Harwood said...

Come on Robert dog ain’t that like Hannibal saying, “I take an elephant ride and people think it’s an invasion!”

Blue Heron said...

That is funny!

Anonymous said...

Blackface apologists. Never funny.

Blue Heron said...

Jolson was considered the greatest entertainer in the world and still the greatest ever by many. He drew from all races and had tremendous support from blacks. So somebody thought he was funny at one time, for sure. It is reported that 60% of african americans in Virginia want Northam to stay in office. So the real problem is p.c. whites whose favorite indulgence is being aggrieved and playing the victim card. First they came for the frito bandito. Who is next, heckel and jeckyl?

Anonymous said...

It is reported. 60% of African Americans. It is reported.

That the 'it is reported' lie has indeed been reported is probably not in doubt. Certainly it will be parroted over and over too.

Blackface and everything it symbolizes is always wrong. No picking and choosing who gets to laugh. I'm sure the racists thought it was funny too. Will you accommodate their laughter?

#metoo. Except when she loved it.

Blue Heron said...

Who are the politically correct police going to put their priggish sights on next, Robert Crumb?

Anonymous said...

Hey you- anonymous asshole....fuck you and your bullshit comments....you must be one of those stupid, middle aged, balding assholes with a big mouth and a small dick. I've read your words....you suck as a human being. "#Metoo- except when she loved it." Who writes that shit except for hateful, misogynist assholes like yourself. Go pound sand...then bury your head in it. ~LJ

Anonymous said...

Hey LJ,
Triggered? Projecting maybe too? The #metoo thing went straight over your head. Flipped your switch straight to default sexist (as racist certainly would bite you in the ass on this one). All three wires in your complex circuitry shorted.

Anonymous said...

Projecting? What a joke. It's your bullshit, own it, asshole. You haven't triggered anything...you useless pile of excrement, I can smell you from here and you stink. The #Metoo thing, never went over my head, its such a lowlife comment it is still squashed under my foot. Only a rotten misogynist incel like yourself would ever put it out there. You're a clueless wonder...no wonder nobody likes you.
You think you're so brave hiding behind your anonymity?? You're a little wussie boy. LJ


Blue Heron said...

Now, now, you two...

Anonymous said...

Oh look! There's still smoke coming out of LJ!

mike said...

ANONYMOUS IS TRULY IGNORANT AND HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE/SHE/IT IS TALKING ABOUT CONCERNING AL JOLSON. EVERYTHING THAT BLUE HERON POSTED IS CORRECT IN REFERENCE TO MR. JOLSON'S SUPPORT OF BLACKS DURING HIS ERA. MR. JOLSON ALONG WITH MANY OTHERS APPEARED IN BLACKFACE FOR TWO REASONS. IT WAS ACCEPTABLE AT THAT TIME AND SECONDLY IMITATION IS ALWAYS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY IN ANY FORM. SOME PEOPLE DON'T NEED TO HIDE BEHIND ANONYMITY. WHAT'S WRONG ANONYMOUS? ARE YOU FRIGHTENED OF REVEALING WHO YOU ARE? ARE YOU AFRAID OF WHAT MAY HAPPEN IF YOU DO?