05-23-2018  5:31 pm      •     
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Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Lawmakers hold hearing to discuss Oregon dairy's downfall

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers are asking questions about what went wrong with a large dairy that is facing a lawsuit, regulatory problems and bankruptcy in an effort to find ways to prevent a similar situation in the future.The Senate Interim Committee on Environment and Natural...

Editorials from around Oregon

Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:_____The Oregonian/OregonLive, May 23, on rebuilding faith in police oversight board:Derek Ashton, an attorney representing former Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea, didn't mince words in criticizing a committee's recommendation that O'Dea lose his police...

Amazon, Starbucks pledge money to repeal Seattle head tax

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan and other companies have pledged a total of more than 0,000 toward an effort to repeal Seattle's newly passed tax on large employers intended to combat homelessness.Just days after the Seattle City Council approved the levy, the No Tax On Jobs...

14 vehicles destroyed in central Washington brush fire

SELAH, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say 14 vehicles were destroyed in a brush fire in central Washington.The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the fire scorched about a half square mile near Selah on Tuesday.Selah Deputy Fire Chief Jim Lange says the fire threatened multiple homes and burned up to...


Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...


The Latest: Milwaukee NAACP head: No reason to use stun gun

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Latest on Milwaukee police releasing body-camera footage showing the arrest of Bucks guard Sterling Brown (all times local):7:05 p.m.The president of the NAACP in Milwaukee says he doesn't see anything in a newly released police body-camera video that would warrant...

Milwaukee chief apologizes for arrest of Bucks guard Brown

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales apologized to Bucks guard Sterling Brown on Wednesday for a January arrest that started with a parking violation and escalated to include use of a stun gun, and said some officers had been disciplined.Brown responded with a statement...

Offshore worker alleges bias in federal lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An African-American offshore oil worker has filed a federal lawsuit saying he was intimidated on the job by a supervisor who drew a picture of him dangling from a high rig structure while surrounded by co-workers in Ku Klux Klan hats.The lawsuit claims the worker was...


Deadliest Catch' star pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault

SEATTLE (AP) — Celebrity crab-boat captain Sig Hansen has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he spat on an Uber driver last year in Seattle.The Seattle Times reports (https://bit.ly/2s3scWE) the 52-year-old "Deadliest Catch" star pleaded guilty Wednesday.Under the plea deal, a...

Lawyer: Harvey Weinstein targeted by federal prosecutors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harvey Weinstein's lawyer said in a court filing that federal prosecutors in New York have launched a criminal investigation into the film producer, in addition to a previously disclosed probe by the Manhattan District Attorney.Attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a...

Comedian Josh Denny not sorry about N-word tweets

NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian and Food Network host Josh Denny has called his tweets using the N-word and comparing use of "straight white male" to the racial slur as "very incendiary," but he said he's not sorry.The host of "Ginormous Food" appeared on Van Lathan's podcast "The Red Pill" on...


Family rejoices at finding of soldier's World War II plane

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tom Kelly grew up on a Northern California farm and once thought of becoming a cowboy...

AP source: Jared Kushner granted security clearance

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been granted a security clearance...

US employee in China reported strange sounds, pressure

BEIJING (AP) — A U.S. government employee in southern China reported abnormal sensations of sound and...

French government orders evacuation of Paris migrant camps

PARIS (AP) — Police are preparing to dismantle makeshift camps holding close to 2,500 migrants in the...

2 patients who fled Ebola ward among the dead in Congo

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Two infected patients who fled from an Ebola treatment center in a Congo city of 1.2...

Summits give aged North Korean spies hope of returning home

GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — He's spent nearly six decades trapped on enemy soil, surviving 29 years in a...

A production still from "Show Boat" showing dock workers on the Cotton Blossom
Arashi Young of The Skanner News

When the musical “Show Boat” opened at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on December 27, 1927, critics were immediately enthralled.  Brooks Atkinson, writing for the New York Times, called it “unimpeachable” and “intelligently made.”

The production was adapted from Edna Ferber’s book of the same name. The story followed the lives of performers, crew and dock workers on the show boat Cotton Blossom as they pursue stardom, fall in love, separate and reunite.

“Show Boat” was the first racially integrated musical which had Black and white performers appearing and singing on stage together. Previous musical theater pieces would have Black artists performing in separate acts from white artists. It was also the first musical to feature an interracial marriage and characters who attempted to “pass” as white.

The Portland Opera is showing performances of “Show Boat” from May 1 – 9 and is hosting a series of events around Portland to explore the production in more depth.

The first event in the series is a guided discussion on how race is portrayed in the musical. Portland Community College Professor Carmen Thompson will join cast members Angela Renee Simpson and Arthur Woodley and the Portland Opera educators Bob Kingston and Alexis Hamilton in a panel discussion.

Portland Opera Communications Manager Ingrid Arnett said the panel discussion is a new addition to their outreach effort and an occasion to explore forward-thinking issues.

“’Show Boat’ did so much for musical theatre because it was so progressive for its time,” Arnett said. “Even now it presents a great opportunity to sit down and talk about these large issues – the struggle against prejudice, racism and economic injustice.”

The panel takes place at Highland United Church of Christ at 7 p.m. on April 7, it is free and open to the public.

Hamilton said the outreach for “Show Boat” is important because of the provocative nature of the work, which was set in 1895.

“It deals with race in the United States at that time,” Hamilton said, adding that the language used and the historical stereotypes can be uncomfortable, even when used to examine issues of social justice and prejudice.

The production of “Show Boat,” which has been remounted and revised many times in the years since 1927, becomes a reflection of racial attitudes at the time, according to Hamilton. Some versions would try to be politically correct by erasing any uncomfortable race stereotype or language and would instead focus on beautiful costumes and the love songs for white performers.

“Instead of mindfully portraying a time and space, and mindfully dealing with the racial issues, often productions have tried to mitigate it by just excluding it, not dealing with it,” Hamilton said.

The Portland Opera will perform the Hal Prince version, which was a 1994 revival of the show. Prince had a strong focus on the lives of the Black characters within the performance, showing the hard labor of the dock workers who live a life apart from the white folks.

Another focus of Prince’s version is white appropriation of Black art and culture. Magnolia, a white singer from “Show Boat,” thrives as a performer because she can sing with a “Black voice,” while the Black artists who taught her to sing could not reach the same success.

Hamilton believes the Prince take on “Show Boat” is an opportunity to pose large questions about race and privilege. She says the arguments found in the show still happen to this day.

“We are taking art and using it as a springboard to have a discussion that needs to happen in the United States today, that needs to happen in our community in Portland,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton and Kingston will also host an “Opera in Depth” lecture on the history and social implications behind the show at the Hampton Opera Center on April 20.

One hour before every performance there will be free information session with Kingston. And after the show there will be a free 30-minute “Back Talk” Q and A with join General Director Christopher Mattaliano, performers and conductors.

Portland Opera has also partnered with the Hollywood Theatre to bring a film screening of the 1936 version of “Show Boat” directed by James Whale. The critically acclaimed film features the work of Paul Robeson whose rendition of "Ol' Man River" remains one of the most famous and loved versions to this day.


To purchase tickets to “Show Boat,” click here.

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