Entry by Jasmeet Kaur: Mr Ira Aldridge, the celebrated African tragedian

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Mr Ira Aldridge, the celebrated African tragedian

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The following image is a newspaper article titled “Mr. Ira Aldridge, the celebrated African tragedian” who is the well known actor of famous melodramatic “The Black Doctor”, which is the alternative title of this newspaper. The newspaper article signifies the impact the play had during its time, especially with racism still taking place. A play which tackled the topic of racism and its significance on a black person living within an oppressive society. To truly understand the significance of such an article, one must understand why having his name headlining a newspaper is historic. Newspapers during such a period do not freely give away headlines to theater actors, even if one has passed away, especially those who were black as well. It was still a predominantly white society, where discrimination and racisum was very much present. Merely the color of your skin still dictated where you belonged in society, and the status you can hold.. The play signifies such a message, where Fabian faces the internal struggles of removing society's shackles from himself mentally. Where he still has to live in fear of loving someone that does not share his skin color, Pauline. From the article, the words “Lovers of Bourbon” are shown underneath black doctor acknowledging Fabiana and Paulines relationship. The words underneath that aren't quite clear to see, but are the acts of the overall play published; the last one stating “Awful death of the Black doctor” which already spoils the play's ending. Overall, a play that tackles the concept of racism has to face such notions outside of it as well. Which makes this newspaper article highly significant for showcasing strides Ira Aldridge was able to take during this era.

Author: Jasmeet Kaur

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    Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
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    Public Domain
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    New York Public Library