Removing The “Minstrel Mask”

Marva Griffin Carter

in Swing Along

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195108910
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865796 | DOI:
                   Removing The “Minstrel Mask”

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This chapter discusses how a group of black contemporary intellectuals and artists elevated the content, form, and style of the Negro as theatrical writer, composer, and performer. It shows that Will Cook used compositional techniques that were employed by both black and white contemporary composers. It shows that Cook used the African themes, ethnic humor, and coon variety stereotypes that were common among black songwriters, but he also wrote songs about love, women, patriotism, nostalgia, and themes that were also common in the songs by whites. It clarifies that the ultimate purpose of masking was for deception, which for blacks was a method of coping with their dual role in a multiracial society. It highlights that in unmasking the musicals of Will Cook, African Americans came closer to revealing the truth about themselves and others in their pursuit of social justice and equality.

Keywords: minstrel mask; masking; social justice; equality; multiracial society; Paul Laurence Dunbar

Chapter.  3349 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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