Images of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in the German Press (1877-1878)

The Fisk Jubilee Singers were an African American musical ensemble who traveled to Germany between 1877 and 1878 to raise money for Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee (USA). We can see the range of responses in these two images to their arrival: the first from the satirical journal Kladdaeradatsch (1877) and the second from the Protestant Christian family magazine, Daheim (1878). The first reduces the performers to racialized caricatiures that deny any individuality, while the second’s more naturalistic portrayal emphasizes the performers’ humanity and dignity and even, through the sidelong gaze of one of the singers, agency.


Kladderadatsch_JubileeSingers_image
“A Black Attack”

 

“The Jubilee Singers in the Singakademie in Berlin”

 


Sources: “Ein schwarzer Anschlag,” Kladderadatsch (16 December 1877); Aus die Zeit – Für die Zeit,” Daheim (30 November 1878).

 



Kira Thurman

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