Bert Williams and George Walker

Celebrating Black History Month in Theatre
Posted on 02/16/2021
Image of Bert Williams and George Walker(from Mark Zimmerman, theatre arts director Firestone CLC and Akron School for the Arts)

At the turn of the twentieth century, Bert Williams and George Walker were two of the most sought-after comedians on the American stage, renowned for their storytelling, singing, dancing and pantomime. Making them even more exceptional was the fact that they were black, at a time when black performers had few professional opportunities open to them. Indeed, the pair helped inaugurate a new kind of comedy, creating characters that delighted audiences both black and white.

They were pioneering recording artists as well.

In 1903, they starred in "In Dahomey," the first all-black musical comedy on Broadway. Although the show still used black-face and vaudeville comedy, it was a major step in representation. The theme of the show even included criticizing African Imperialism.

Image of Bert Williams and George Walker
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