(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 8/3; via Pam Green.)

Abel Green arrives out of breath from running for the train. It is the 1910s, and he is an actor hopping a boxcar on his way to a minstrel show. But performing is something he’s done since long before he ever was paid for it.

“See, all Negroes are actors by necessity,” he tells us conversationally, getting dressed out of the suitcase he’s brought along. “The script is passed down generation to generation. The Negroes who know they lines tend to live longer than the Negroes that don’t, generally speaking, as it pertains to dealing with white folks.”


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