Were Butterfly McQueen and Stepin Fetchit Subversive as Actors?

“African American moviegoers probably found Butterfly McQueen  and Stepin’ Fetchit less humorous and less compelling than did their white counterparts  (although it would a lie to say that these characters never elicited laughter from the balcony). What historians might explore, in this particular instance, is whether black audiences saw these characters as tricksters, their own […]

Did Black Actors in White Supremacist Films Get a Fair Shake?

“Although their work was always first rate and, at the very least, highly entertaining, black performers such as [Butterfly] McQueen, Hattie McDaniel and Stepin Fetchit have had no end of castigation, ostracism and condemnation for their stereotypical roles in white supremacist films in the 30s and 40s … When I first saw McQueen in Cabin […]

How Thelma Became Butterfly McQueen

“In 1934, Thelma joined Miss Venezuela Jones’ Negro Youth Theatre Group in Harlem and was cast in a production of A “Midsummer’s Night Dream,” staged at New York City College. When the members of the group practiced at the Hechscher Foundation and the Lafayette Theatre, some of them would boast about their professional work in […]

Remembering a Florida Icon: Butterfly McQueen

By Douglas C. Lyons Yikes! I missed Butterfly McQueen’s birthday. Many others may have forgotten this Florida native, like I did. But, on January 7, 1911, Thelma McQueen was born in Tampa. She would change her name and experience infamy. Her initial career goal was to become a nurse, but a high school teacher thought […]