BackStory looks at blackface on this week’s episode

BackStoryBackStory, an American history podcast produced by Virginia Humanities, releases “The Faces of Racism: A History of Blackface and Minstrelsy in American Culture.”

Nathan Connolly talks with historian Rhae Lynn Barnes about Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 yearbook page and its link to a long and disturbing history of blackface minstrelsy. They discuss how white civic organizations used minstrel shows for fundraising, why the era known as Jim Crow is named after a minstrel character, and what must happen to prevent people from donning blackface going forward.

Barnes is an assistant professor of history at Princeton University specializing in the globalization of American popular culture. She is co-founder and editor of U.S. History Scene, a provider of open-access teaching resources to U.S. public schools and the author of the forthcoming book “Darkology: When the American Dream Wore Blackface.”

“The Faces of Racism: A History of Blackface and Minstrelsy in American Culture,” is available now. Find it and every episode of BackStory on the website ( or on popular podcatchers including iTunes, Spotify and Google.BackStory publishes every week at noon and is available for free.

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
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