What is it that makes Johnny Hudgins and Jack Johnson Harlem Renaissance men?
Join Robert O’Meally, Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Founder and Director of Columbia University’s Jazz Center this two-part series exploring the lives of Harlem Renaissance trailblazers.
Harlem Renaissance Man: Johnny Hudgins
Johnny Hudgins will seem an unlikely candidate for Harlem Renaissance Man honors. Blackface comic dancer, with absurd white-paint grin glowing against tar-blackened face, here’s a pantomimist almost completely lost to cultural history. And yet there he was! At the height of his fame a showstopper at Harlem’s Lafayette Theater.
Who was this man? How do we square the solid foundation of the Harlem Renaissance with the boomeranging ovals and circles of blackface comic dance? This talk will feature clips of the dancer, images from his extensive scrapbooks, and a live musical surprise.