Conclusion: The end of “Butter Side Up”

  • David Krasner


By 1927, several events had left their indelible mark on African American theatre and performance. Florence Mills had died, Charles Gilpin was no longer active, Marcus Garvey had been deported, and Alain Locke and W. E. B. Du Bois were showing diminishing interest in theatre and drama. In the late 1920s, Locke and Du Bois added little to what they had already said about folk art and the role of propaganda. During 1927, “talkies” were invented and rapidly became popular, attracting a great deal of talent from the theatre. A new crop of actors and performers came on the scene, among them Paul Robeson, Bill “Bo Jangles” Robinson, and Rose McClendon. S. H. Dudley had, for the most part, withdrawn to his horse farm in Maryland. Playwrights Willis Richardson, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Angelina Weld Grimké would become less productive after 1927, and only Zora Neale Hurston continued, extending her prolific career into the 1930s and 1940s. New writers, however, soon emerged. Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman brought with them a different agenda and a new set of objectives.


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  1. 1.
    George M. Fredrickson, The Black Image in the White Mind (Hanover, NH: Wes-leyan University Press, 1987), 327.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    See, for instance, George Hutchinson, Harlem Renaissance in Black and White (Cam-bridge: Harvard University Press, 1995)Google Scholar
  3. Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (New York: Noonday Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    W D. Wright, Black Intellectuals, Black Cognition, And A black Aesthetic (Westport: Praeger, 1997), 145.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence, Writing Himself Into History: Oscar Mlcheaux, His Silent Films, and His Audiences (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000), 178.Google Scholar

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© David Krasner 2002

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  • David Krasner

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