The role of the artist in the cause of Black freedom has been a hotly debated topic for generations now. Dr. Jonathan Shandell
’s The American Negro Theatre and the Long Civil Rights Era
(University of Iowa Press, 2018) focuses the American Negro Theatre, located in Harlem, New York, to argue that the stories told in the theatre transformed and expanded how Black life was and would be portrayed. Ultimately, Shandell shows that the American Negro Theatre was a formative space for many Black artists who ended up shaping the Civil Rights Movement, as well as American popular culture as a whole.
Adam McNeil is a PhD student in History, African American Public Humanities Initiative and Colored Conventions Project Fellow at the University of Delaware. He can be reached on Twitter @CulturedModesty.