The blackface minstrel act was a very popular form of entertainment in 19th-century America. It was also a highly racist depiction of African Americans.
Stereotypes embodied in the stock characters of blackface minstrelsy played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide. In some quarters, the caricatures that were the legacy of blackface persist to the present day and are a cause of ongoing controversy.
By the mid-20th century, changing attitudes about race and racism effectively ended the prominence of blackface makeup used in performance in the U.S. and elsewhere. However, it remains in relatively limited use as a theatrical device, mostly outside the U.S., and is more commonly used today as edgy social commentary or satire. Perhaps the most enduring effect of blackface makeup is the precedent it established in the introduction of African American culture to an international audience, albeit through a distorted lens.