Lafcadio Hearn's pursuit of African - American culture in Cincinnati

Steve Kemme


During Lafcadio Hearn’s eight years in Cincinnati, he delved deeply into the culture and everyday lives of the African-Americans living in the city in the decade after the Civil War. He frequented the bars and dance halls patronized by them and wrote vivid newspaper stories free of racism about their singing, dancing, and impoverished lives. Many of the blacks were former slaves who had been liberated by the Union’s victory or had escaped before the war and had been ushered to freedom by the Underground Railroad. Bordering the slave state of Kentucky, Cincinnati had been an important station in that network. Hearn collected the lyrics of dozens of songs he heard in African-American entertainment venues and from black dockworkers along the riverfront levee. These stories about African-Americans contained some of Hearn’s best writing during this early stage in his career. His Cincinnati period marked the beginning of his lifelong interest in exploring different ethnic cultures, foreshadowing some of his writing in New Orleans, Martinique and Japan.

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Culture| ISSN: 2732-8511 | Μουσείο Σχολικής Ζωής & Εκπαίδευσης / Τμήμα Διοίκησης Τουρισμού

Πασιθέη | Βιβλιοθήκη & Κέντρο Πληροφόρησης | Πανεπιστήμιο Πατρών