Chicago Minstrel Show Hoax

Chicago news outlets recently received a press release from one "Harry Slater," who claimed to be an AP English teacher and "dean of dramatic and movement arts" at Community High School District 94 in West Chicago. The release said that the school's Glee Club was going to be staging a charity minstrel show in order to "start a conversation about racial representation and stereotypes." Proceeds from the show would be donated to the school's Multicultural Sensitivity Club.

But when the school began receiving calls from people seeking more info about this show, it was exposed as a hoax.

The true author of the release was a local artist, Jason Pallas, who had been participating in an exhibit at City Museum in which artists created a new work based around a topic or artifact from West Chicago's past. Pallas had chosen a 1930 playbill for a minstrel show (directed by a Harry Slater) as his object of inspiration. His art for the exhibit was the hoax premise of a local school staging a commemorative performance of the 1930 minstrel show. So this was an example of "hoax as art".

Playbill of the 1930 minstrel show that inspired Pallas

City Museum has now removed Pallas from its exhibit, and the high school has posted a "Special Statement Regarding Minstrel Show Hoax" on its website. Also, the school doesn't have a "Multicultural Sensitivity Club." []


Posted on Mon Dec 23, 2013


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