Arts and Entertainment


When were all-black circuses first known to exist?

Ephraim Williams, a former shoeshine boy, formed a black traveling show in the 1880s. He was soon given the moniker of the “Black P. T. Barnum.” His costume consisted of a tuxedo, top hat, and cane. Williams performed before lumberjacks as he traveled with his show to northern Wisconsin in 1885. His entertainment business grew to three circuses, which enabled him to expand his staff to one hundred people. To move his wild animals, equipment, and performers, he used fifteen railroad cars, which he owned. His entertainment business closed in 1902 because of bad weather and financial difficulties.


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