All God's Chillun Got Wings



  • Eugene O'Neill's play about the marriage between aBlack man and a White woman. It caused outrage when first performedin 1924 at the Provincetown Playhouse, New York, in a production starringPaul Robeson and Mary Blair. Newspapers carried the headline"White actress Kisses Negro's Hand" after this occurredon stage. O'Neill, his children, and the cast, all received deaththreats.

    Before the play opened, O'Neill and the Provincetown managementdecided to revive his earlier play The Emperor Jones in "anattempt to focus the attention of the public on an actor instead ofa controversy". Robeson won acclaim in the role of the Blackemperor, but this did nothing to stem the outrage after the openingof All God's Chillun Got Wings. O'Neill countered with a pressstatement:

    Prejudice born of an entire ignorance of the subject is thelast word in injustice and absurdity. The Provincetown Playhouse hasignored all criticism not founded on a knowledge of the play and willcontinue to ignore it...All we ask is a square deal...Wedemand this hearing.
    New York's district attorney tried to ban the play but hadto concede that no law was being violated. Instead, he banned theuse of child actors and their lines were read by the stage managerthroughout the run.