Black Musical Theater has its roots in minstrel shows, going back even as early as the 1840s. Some black slaves were promised freedom if they performed in these shows. For others, this was the only way to get exposure. Soon, black people began holding their own minstrel shows.

Brooker and Clayton's Georgia Minstrels

the first group of black people to have a successful minstrel show

The Wiz

a black version of the popular play The Wizard of Oz; starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, and more

Soon, minstrel shows began to decline in popularity, so black musical theater began to take other forms, including opera and vaudeville. Popular modern examples of black musical theater include The Wiz, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls, Fame, Sparkle, and Porgy and Bess.