Before African Americans were able to take the stage and showcase their talents in a theater, they were being mocked and paraded around in Minstrel Shows. White actors would dress up in Blackface and mock African Americans exaggerating them and their culture. In the background, African Americans would stand and sing “coon songs.”
Will Marion Cook and Bob Cole were the first people to bring Black written musicals to Broadway, in 1898. Although Cook and Cole had different ideas of the type of shows that they wanted to bring to the world, over the years African Americans took musical theater and made it their own.
Once African Americans began performing on Broadway, they started to create shows of their own. Over the years there have been many notable Black Broadway shows, a few of them including: The Wiz, Dreamgirls, A Raisin in the Sun, and Carmen Jones.