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Beyond BlackfaceAfrican Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930$
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W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834626

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878026_brundage

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Working in the “Kingdom of Culture”

Working in the “Kingdom of Culture”

African Americans and American Popular Culture, 1890–1930

(p.1) Working in the “Kingdom of Culture”
Beyond Blackface

W. Fitzhugh Brundage

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the rise of blacks in American mass culture between 1890 and 1930, and how it coincided with the heyday of what historian David Nasaw has described as the era of “public amusements.” A proliferation of commercialized mass entertainment, ranging from phonograph parlors and silent-film palaces to professional sports events and dancehalls, transformed American leisure. In huge numbers, Americans of all classes and backgrounds sought out these and other forms of commercial leisure. By exploiting the era's dizzying technological innovations, mass-culture entrepreneurs produced accessible and alluring forms of entertainment that accelerated the nation's emerging consumer economy. This new prominence of mass entertainment, and of blacks in it, accentuated contradictions in American attitudes about both race and culture.

Keywords:   rise of blacks, American mass culture, David Nasaw, public amusements, commercialized mass entertainment

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