The Black is Beautiful Movement

Erika LaVonn (Risa) in rehearsal

Erika LaVonn (Risa) in rehearsal for Two Trains Running at Syracuse Stage

Two Trains Running is set amidst the “Black is Beautiful” movement of the late 1960s. It spiraled off of the Black Power ideology, and it aimed to dispel the widespread notion that Black people’s natural traits such as skin color, facial features and hair are inherently ugly. John Sweat Rock is credited with coining the famous phrase “Black is Beautiful.” The movement asked that men and women stop straightening their hair and attempting to lighten or bleach their skin in attempt to reach the unattainable European-Americans’ standard of beauty.  The character Risa, who is the only woman in the play, deals most closely with the ideology of the movement. She has recently cut her legs in order to be seen for her inner beauty instead of as a sex object. The movement is largely responsible for the popularity of the Afro hairstyle. Most importantly, it gave a generation of Blacks the courage to feel good about who they were and how they looked.



About syracusestage

Syracuse Stage is the Professional Theatre of Central New York.
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