Throughout the 19th century, minstrel shows were one of America’s favorite ways to kick back and have fun. People around the country would flock out to theaters in droves, ready to laugh at white men in blackface plucking at banjos, banging on tambourines, and pretending to be as dumb as bricks.
It was entertainment. It was, the people thought, simple fun. They just turned off their minds and laughed — either unaware of or unconcerned about the blackface’s insidious implications.