Black Iconic Image Use in the 19th And 20th Century to Sell Products

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One of the most recognizable black images ever used in American advertising is the black face in the minstrel performance. Either a coating of coco butter or a black grease paint was used. While the majority of the outfits consisted of stripped trousers, top hats, and swallowtail coats that combine formal wear and garish clothing, the lips were accentuated with red or white paints. (Taylor and Austen 39). The blackfaces were employed to promote goods through imitations of black music, dialects, and routines. Therefore, the shows staged various songs dances, jokes and skits that were by African American slaves. However, in the 19th century, the white audiences could not recognize entertainers who were real blacks.

Thesis: The essay discusses how black faces are highly used to sell products in 19th and 20th century when the mass consumption economy expanded.

Blackfaces were very common in America such that they were applied in a variety of shows that were the dominant type of mass entertainment in America. These shows included musicians, dancers, comedy routines, short plays among others combined on one bill which were the most common type of live theatres. Twentieth-century famous performers started in vaudeville (Taylor and Austen 89). Bert Williams was the popular black stage performer who staged in blackface coon stereotype. He staged with George Walker whom they referred to themselves as real coons. Later they came to be among the most thriving comedy duos. They wrote, produced and starred in Dahomy where they opened the first musical comedy. They tasted success in New York that was followed by quite a lot of failures where later in the 19th century they became stars. George wore impeccable, flashy tailored suits while Williams wore worn-out and ill-fitting clothes. The figure below shows George and William in blackfaces.

Figure:1 the “two real coons” (Taylor and Austen 87).

Williams saw blacks as particularly being skilled in comedy, dance and music. He separated himself from injustices especially racial discrimination that Walker showed openly (Taylor and Austen 92). After Walker died, William started playing for the whites and left the blacks off stage and on stage both in public pronouncements and in theatrical appearances. However the black face he was waering gave him inimitable persona. That contributed to his success. The figure below shows the characters who performed the famous television show” Amos and Andy” in blackfaces.

Figure 2: Picture of Amos and Andy (Taylor and Austen 100)

In the famous television show of Amos and Andy, the characters were formed by the Charles Freeman; the two were actors with vaudeville experience and the blackface. When integration in the 1950s turned to federal law, race movies came to an end since small black theaters were put out of the business. However, the blacks continued to participate in roles like servants on movies, a TV special “Flip out with Flip” that consisted of wacky and brief skits about black youth headstrong being put by wise in place. Moreover, a paternal figure was cast hence a bold and a notable move. In the 20th century, perry came to exemplify the black minstrelsy when Step-in his stage persona allowed him to be the Hollywood’s superstar who was the first black superstar. According to Taylor and Austen (103), he never invented the lazy, slow-witted Buffon stereotype that came on the screen in more than fifty movies; rather his interpretation was specific, memorable and stylized. Perry may do better on TV shows; however, it did not try to supplant his character “chicken-stealing Idiot.” The populist means has ever been appealing to the people who had severally presented vaudeville and minstrel shows. Hence the performers who were black who does stereotype-laden comedy have finally become the television perennials steadily emerging again after few seasons. However, the Amos and Andy reflected the reactions and the refinement to the tradition of the black minstrel that has developed the film for more than a half a century. Lincoln Perry being among the first black face when the Edison Company started producing first America commercial films, the results showed the themes, and the content of black minstrelsy and also their competitors followed the same steps. Since the use of black faces enabled the market hence the success of the company.

Figure 3: Publicity of Lincoln Perry and Will Rogers (Taylor and Austen, 107)

Lyles and Miller met in Nashville at Fisk University where they found work Stock Company known as Pekin Theater which was considered to be African –American first legitimate theater. They created their shows and featured in broadways as performers (Taylor and Austen 110). They prospered engaging their foundation on minstrel shows. Their version stressed on dexterous wordplay and character later in the 19th century they would present their shows on radio hence succeeded in that company.


Black icon images can be used to sell various products since they used to entertain and the characters involved were very popular across America as seen in Amos and Andy were a staple of the radio and television in America. Lincoln Perry in the 20th century personified minstrelsy, where they shaped entertainment in America, and bloggers used them. It is given credit as the pioneer in the channel since t used characters that were recurring and other techniques like storytelling, hence enhancing selling of the products in the expanding mass economy. Finally with the risk that their livelihood and business faced by ruthless and smarter rivals their duplicitous and popular nature allowed them to fight effectively.

Second Essay

The Minstrel Impulse Importance on the Popular Art’s History


Minstrel shows were a form of entertainment in America that was developed in nineteen century. It was a racial type of entertainment that consisted of dancing, comic skits, music performances and various acts that mocked the African –American. The performances have defined American popular culture. It was the origin of pride or shame that made the foundation for entertainment in America (Taylor and Austen 28). They were staged by Caucasians in black faces that played the role of black people although there were also performers who were African –American. Minstrel shows displayed black people as being buffoonish, dim-minded, and superstitious among others. However, in twentieth-century vaudeville had replaced the minstrel show, Christy minstrels were the most successful compared with all the troupes, it popularity stretched from London.

The essay discusses how dances, comic skits, music performances are of great importance in the history of the trending arts.

The performance traditionally was refined to literate standards, where the literate was constant; the growth was identified in the audience that was considered poor such that they could not afford theatrical luxuries. Thus, according to Taylor and Austen (9), social critics and historians such as Eric Lot, Mark Twain among others argued that credit should be given to minstrel for introducing aspects of folk arts and black folkways to A America's popular culture mainstream. However they used their money to know their identity on stage, the blackface was the first mass culture in Atlantic its shifted from script to the improvised theatre. The depression was very crucial since it maximized the group of people and made them informed of their community and how they lacked cultural franchise. It focused on the creation of a new working class that was meant to identify images on stage chiefly.

Despite the international trends, there is clear independence key aim that makes culture historians try to legalize the Virginia Minstrel’s urge to start their pastiche. However, the minstrel band that was fixed by the Virginia Minstrels was not a stable affair, the problem on the part of history it the prejudice in Network’s favour. The records were being analyzed and it was an outrageous idea of believing in metropolitan or plantation blackface concept origin (Lhamon 65).

The black minstrel that had self-marks are still being learned had its origin in the transfiguration of the historical marks where they mean the performers had to mark their togetherness with the journeymen through accepting those marks by the minstrel audience. The minstrels revealed a sign of visage labour, the symbolism of culture that is revealed by blackface has been enhanced and elaborated since it has lead to culture acceptance and also assisted African –American to identify with certain culture(Lhamon 70).

Regardless of the roots of blackface and the comic dialect use, the shows seemed to be popular with the black activist, press, social critics and the listeners where they feel that the show offered real fun from the start to the end thus revealing the important case this minstrel shows to them. Through presenting the Amos noble aspirations, his love life, how he pursued his American dream among others, Correll and Gosden undermined many years of blackface practice dehumanizing. He made his character real and not a stereotype where they made donations to the public and the back-story of Gosden to have a black friend never worked out (Taylor and Austen 110).

Sometimes the shows were very important since they revealed the positive and the negative side, the Kingfish’s dishonesty, ridiculous dialect never limed with the political climate. The slow-witted were engaged in daily roles where a negative stereotype was given an enduring name and is perfected. Quite some blacks enjoyed television shows and found them interesting especially when Williams and Moore were at the best of their shows even to the eyes that are racial sensitive. The Amos and Andy adventures made it hard for middle people black to observe and engage in a response that is quite comforting. Alvin Childress has a historic career that is less compared to Williams. However he participated in the less significant role, he has been an actor in New York thus it is clear that minstrel shows had an impact on the popular history arts. He stages numerous productions in the 1940s he also featured in race films. Therefore, they expertly brought narratives hat were nonsensical to life hence contributing to the growth of the character’s legacy hence the importance of minstrel impulse (Taylor and Austen 115).


In conclusion, minstrel shows took part in performing a great role in shaping the assumptions made about blacks. Through an entertainment that was popular enabled the racist stereotype of ever cheerful, highly musical and uneducated black that helped in the creation of persistence up to today. However many singers who are gained their start in minstrel shows thus they helped popularize the fiddle in the modern music. Through the introduction of America to musical styles and black dances, minstrels opened at large the black cultural forms that contributed much to the history of popular arts.

Works Cited

Lhamon, William T. Raising Cain: Blackface performance from Jim Crow to hip hop. Harvard University Press, 1998.

Taylor, Yuval, and Jake Austen. Darkest America: Black minstrelsy from slavery to hip-hop. WW Norton & Company, 2012.

June 26, 2023

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