Myles Sullivan


In the spring of 1914, the University of Florida's (UF) studentrun newspaper, The Florida Alligator, heralded "one of the biggest attractions of the spring season" with the front page headline "Heah Dey Kum! Dat Minstrel Show." As a theatrical performance style that had gained widespread popularity in the United States in the early 1800s, minstrel shows were often delivered with this imagined faux speech of rural African Americans. Its defining feature was culturally deemed white individuals "blacking up" their faces with burnt cork in visually cued racial caricatures acted out in music, song, and dance. Indeed, when subsequently reviewing the show, the student newspaper found "the black face artists being especially good," with their jokes, songs, and gags. The real selling point for The Alligator, however, was not that a traveling tour of professional minstrels was arriving at the Baird Theatre in downtown Gainesville, FL for one night only, but rather that this show was organized and performed through the combined talents of UF students, staff, and locals. The homegrown production was hailed both "a financial and social success," with all proceeds benefiting the University Athletic Association (UAA) for building bleacher seating at Fleming Field, the school's football and baseball field at the time.

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