A white man in Blackface and a black suit smiles creepily at the camera gesturing with his open hands in white gloves.

Blackface in the United States

Caption for featured image: Al Jolson, once called “the world’s greatest entertainer” in the 1920s, sings in “The Jazz Singer” from 1927, the first feature-length film with synchronized sound that was both a major hit and a mainstream example of Blackface.

Overview of the lesson plan:

This lesson was developed as part of the Black Studies Across the American (BSAA) research program at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Spring Semester 2022.

The target learners are primarily high school or college-aged students who are studying (but not limited to) American culture, history, literature or media arts. Our hope is that these materials will support educators who are committed to the kind of open and constructive dialogue that can foster greater awareness of race in America. 

These materials are designed to be a launching pad for classroom conversations about race.

This OER was co-created by members of the Black Studies Across the Americas project: student contributors Edwin Lema, Julius Morris, and Steven Peregrina and faculty contributor Agustin McCarthy. Feel free to peruse the below content and download for your own use within our Creative Commons license.

This video provides an overview of the history and current controversies related to Blackface. NY Daily News – 8 mins