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Living with LynchingAfrican American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890-1930$
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Koritha Mitchell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036491

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036491.001.0001

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Scenes and Scenarios

Scenes and Scenarios

Reading Aright1

(p.23) Chapter One Scenes and Scenarios
Living with Lynching

Koritha Mitchell

University of Illinois Press

This chapter argues that blacks living during lynching's height accurately read the discourses and practices of their historical moment, and their cultural artifacts reflect their insights. Namely, the plays by black dramatists contain specific characterizations of the nature of lynching, and they inspire black community practices that enable African Americans to continue to interpret their surroundings accurately. In an environment where their extermination was said to make the nation safe, African Americans perceived the truth behind the façade—that lynching was really master/piece theater, designed to reinforce racial hierarchy. African American artists therefore offered scripts that encouraged their communities to continue to rehearse an understanding of themselves as full citizens.

Keywords:   black community, lynching, black dramatists, citizenship, cultural artifacts, African Americans

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