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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author
Space, page 24 of 36


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These films and cartoons represented how segregation extended far beyond the scope of what was possible in the real world.

In Al Jolson's Wonderbar (1934) and its cartoon parody Goin' To Heaven On a Mule (1934), even the realm of afterlife is segregated, containing African-Americans within one racial imaginary.

Similarly, the animation Clean Pastures (1937) manages to heighten the racism of the film it parodies, The Green Pastures (1936). While the film features a stereotypical all-black heaven, the parodic animation caricatures jazz greats such as Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, and Louis Armstrong, and depicts a segregated heaven and hell in which God and the devil vie for the souls of Harlem residents. 

Cabin in the Sky (1943) plays on a similar fantasy, mounting an all-black musical interpretation of Faust.
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