To the editor:
In the Feb. 20 issue of the Chronicle Neita Cecil wrote an excellent article but one with an important error. She wrote, “Blackface began in America in the 1820s…”
Actually blackface began in 1765 (maybe earlier) in what was then called the Frontier and is now known as western Pennsylvania. A group objected to a trader caravan that they thought was carrying guns and powder to the Indians. They dressed like Indians and covered their faces with charcoal and attacked the caravan.
This, and subsequent events, became known (little known) as the Black Boy Rebellion and was a prelude to the revolution with issues such as rural vs. urban conflicts, right to bear arms, and how to treat Native Americans.
The Black Boys are not as well known as other Revolutionary groups but there was a movie made in 1939 about them. It was called “Allegheny Uprising.” It starred John Wayne as James Smith, the leader of the Black Boys.
Bill R. Jones
Editor’s note: The article was referring to blackface used as entertainment, which began in the 1820s.