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Negro on the American Stage
			
                THE NEGRO ON THE AMERICAN STAGE

                       By Lester A. Walton

           JUST as the Negro is making advanced strides in
           many other avenues of endeavor, so is he in the
           world of make-believe.  True, conditions generally
           so far as they affect the colored thespian are not
           of such a roseate nature as to occasion genuine
           enthusiasm, for the colored show business today
           is at a low ebb.     Not for a decade  has  the
           dramatic field been so barren and so unproductive
to the colored performer. However, as our advancement is ofttimes
measured by individual success, it can be said that the race is slowly
but surely assuming a higher and more prominent status in the
theatrical realm.
    To my mind the position of the colored performer today is some-
what analogous to that of the colored politician. While there are
less traveling musical shows and not as many standard vaudeville
acts as a few years ago, yet at this writing the race can boast of a
colored man who is the star of a white Broadway production. I refer
to Bert A. Williams, who, while not so officially designated on the
billboards, is recognized by press and public as the principal attrac-
tion in the "Follies of 1912," a dazzling, spectacular musical show
which is enjoying a run at the Moulin Rouge. There are over one
hundred men and women in the production. Mr. Williams is the only
Negro. I must admit that Mr. Williams' name does not appear in
front of the theater in large lights, but his managers are well aware
of the prejudice they are compelled to fight, and are putting the
colored comedian forward step by step and not in leaps and bounds.
Only two seasons ago, when Mr. Williams became first associated with
the Follies Company, he was only permitted to come out on the stage
alone and do his specialty and then retire to his dressing room. This
season he has scenes with the other prominent members of the cast,
both male and female, and there is no excitement over what, a few
seasons ago, would have been termed an alarming and aggravated
case of "social equality."
  It is my aim to discuss in this article the Negro on the American
                            234




			
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African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, Vol. 29, Num. 3

Negro on the American Stage

A.

Volume:  29
Issue Number:  03
Page Number:  234
Date:  01/1913


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