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Black History Month Art — Pioneers in Broadway History

Celebrate and honor Black History Month art, as we take a look at some of the most influential people of color in Broadway history. Broadway, the heart of the American theater scene, has a rich history of black performers, writers, and directors who have made a significant impact on the industry. In honor of Black History Month, we want to highlight some of the most influential people in Broadway history.

Lena Horne

Lena Horne was an actress, singer, and civil rights activist who rose to fame in the 1940s and 1950s. She was one of the first African American performers to break the color barrier on Broadway, and her performances in shows such as Jamaica and The Lady and Her Music helped to pave the way for other African American performers. Horne‘s powerful voice and stage presence made her a trailblazer in the world of Broadway and she also recently made headlines as the first Black woman to have a theater named after her.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a poet, playwright, and novelist who was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. He was one of the first African American writers to gain recognition on Broadway, and his plays, such as Mulatto and Black Nativity, helped to bring the experiences and perspectives of African Americans to the stage. Hughes‘ work helped to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices of his time, and his plays continue to be performed and celebrated to this day.

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August Wilson

August Wilson was a playwright who is widely considered one of the most important voices in American theater. He wrote a series of plays, known as the Pittsburgh Cycle, that explored the lives and experiences of African Americans in each decade of the 20th century. Wilson’s plays, such as Fences (which was recently adapted in Hollywood) and The Piano Lesson, were groundbreaking in their representation of Black history and culture, and they helped to bring a new level of visibility and recognition to African American playwrights on Broadway.

Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters was an actress, singer, and civil rights activist who made her Broadway debut in the 1920s. She was the first African American woman to star in a Broadway show, and her performances in shows such as As Thousands Cheer and Cabin in the Sky helped to pave the way for other African American performers. Waters‘ powerful voice and stage presence made her a trailblazer in the world of Broadway, and her performances helped to break down racial barriers and open up opportunities for other African American performers such as becoming the first African American woman to be heard on the radio and to perform on television.

James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones is an actor who has had a long and successful career on Broadway, in film, and on television. He has appeared in many productions on Broadway, including The Great White Hope and Fences, and his performances have helped to bring a new level of visibility and recognition to African American actors on Broadway. Jones‘ exquisite voice and stage presence have made him one of the most respected actors in the industry, and his performances continue to inspire and influence other actors to this day.

Black History Month is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. Broadway has played an important role in this, as many African American individuals have made significant contributions to the representation of Black history on the stage. From Lena Horne and Langston Hughes to August Wilson and James Earl Jones, these individuals have helped to break down racial barriers and open opportunities for other African American performers, playwrights, and actors. Their legacies will continue to inspire and influence Broadway and beyond for generations to come.

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