Monday, February 20, 2017

101 Minstrel Shows and Coach Forney

When Nancy was a sophomore at Gettysburg High School in 1947-48, she faithfully recorded in a diary her activities for each day.  On Friday, April 2, 1948, Nancy wrote that she and two friends attended the Lion’s Club Minstrel Show in the school auditorium. The show featured club members in blackface performing dances, solos, jokes, comedy skits and music by a sixteen voice chorus. 

Minstrel shows were a form of entertainment developed in the 19th century and were the first theatrical form that was distinctly American. They were performed by white men in blackface lampooning black culture in America. Al Jolson appeared in blackface in 1927 in The Jazz Singer, the first talking motion picture.

As the civil rights movement progressed and gained acceptance, and because of their overt racist references, minstrel performances were ultimately discontinued. Today most people would consider minstrel shows repulsive and offensive.

On April 5, 1948, the local Rotary Club honored the members of the Gettysburg High School basketball team for a very successful season winning seventeen of twenty-two games and scoring 910 points to opponents 752. I was proud to be a contributing member of that team.

In a speech to the Rotarians, Coach George Forney said, “The job of the coach consists principally in telling the boys their faults, and only in that way can improvement be made.”  It was clear from his comments that Forney left the accolades and applause to the community.

No comments:

Post a Comment