Within the first several years of the beginning of the celebration of Black History Month, I attended a demonstration of an actual cotton gin at a local Middle School. By Monday of the next week, there were rumblings being heard from certain segements of the community. After the "learning experience" was quietly removed, School Administration Officials were quoted as saying that, "At the time, it seemed like a really good idea."
Al Jolson gets a bad rap today because he performed in blackface. Actually Al Jolson was well liked by blacks in his day, and he worked to get blacks into the mainstream of the entertainment field. From Wikipedia:
<i>He enjoyed performing in blackface makeup, a theatrical convention since the mid 19th century. With his unique and dynamic style of singing black music, such as jazz and blues, he was later credited with single-handedly introducing African-American music to white audiences. As early as 1911 he became known for fighting against anti-black discrimination on Broadway.</i>
<i>As a Jewish immigrant and America's most famous and highest-paid entertainer, he may have had the incentive and resources to help break down racial attitudes. For instance, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) during its peak in the early 1920s, included about 15% of the nation's eligible voting population, 4-5 million men. While D. W. Griffith's movie The Birth of a Nation glorified white supremacy and the KKK, Jolson chose to star in The Jazz Singer, which defied racial bigotry by introducing American black music to audiences worldwide.
While growing up, Jolson had many black friends, including Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who later became a prominent tap dancer. As early as 1911, at the age of 25, Jolson was already noted for fighting discrimination on the Broadway stage and later in his movies:
"at a time when black people were banned from starring on the Broadway stage," he promoted the play by black playwright Garland Anderson, which became the first production with an all-black cast ever produced on Broadway;
he brought an all-black dance team from San Francisco that he tried to feature in his Broadway show;
he demanded equal treatment for Cab Calloway, with whom he performed a number of duets in his movie The Singing Kid.
he was "the only white man allowed into an all black nightclub in Harlem;"
Jolson once 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 immediately tracked them down and took them out to dinner "insisting he'd punch anyone in the nose who tried to kick us out!" Subsequent to their meeting, according to biographer Al Rose, Jolson and Blake became friends. Rose writes:
This didn’t have anything to do with the theater, because they never worked together. Rather, they both had a love of prize fighting and used to go to boxing matches together, engaging in jocose discussion of the relative merits of ***** with Jewish pugilists. They would occasionally wager a bottle of whisky on these bouts.</i>
Al Jolson's bio is widely known by students of early American Jazz music and the vaudeville era. Tragically, the Black Liberation movement and the NAACP didn't find later glorification of the Jolson genius amusing. Telling Jolson's
story now is like saying, "Why yes, I have a number of very close African American friends."
The racial equality movement of the 21st century is rife with hypocrisy. It is a sham and a farce. The article Gary posted is ample evidence, hence my pleasure in sprinkling just a few drops of lighter fluid on the embers.
"Mammy's little baby loves shortnin', shortnin', mammy's little baby loves shortnin' bread." (And no, that is not a line from Jolson's "Mammy")
it's a sham and farce because the goals are to get entitlements or money in the form of political extortion. Showing a white man who championed blacks does not fit into their historical perspective, so they must revise history.