Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mickey Mouse & Jim Crow

Before civil rights were expanded in recreational spaces, a great many amusement parks used to be segregated in the U.S. They were "white spaces that signaled their purity and safety through racial exclusion." (Wolcott, 2012). Their target group was the white middle-class family, an ideal many minority families were excluded from (Hawk, 2004).



Nevertheless, when Disneyland opened in Anaheim in 1955, it was "notable for the absence of hot spots of racial conflict - swimming pools, dance halls, and roller rinks. There were no rock 'n' roll dance parties in 1950s Disneyland. Disney chose the park's location, inland from the beautiful Pacific coast, because he recognized the dangers of racial mixing at bathing beaches. Within the park there were no spaces where men and women could dance or swim together, eliminating concerns about interracial sexuality that sparked internal park segregation throughout the North. (...) The Disney example demonstrates the extent to which segregation was never simply about the law. Walt Disney's greatest accomplishment may have been creating a regulated, controlled, and clean space without conflict" (Wolcott, 2012) at a time most of the amusement parks had a clear "whites-only" policy (Nathan, 2011).



- Hawk, A. (2004) "Disney-fying" Mother Nature in the Atomic Era: How Disneyland's Portrayals of Nature Reflected Post-War Ideals of Family, Child-Rearing, and the Home, 1955-1966. Explorations: An Undergraduate Research Journal, 7-28.
- Nathan, A. (2011). Round and Round Together: Taking a Merry-Go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement. Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books.
- Wolcott, V. W. (2012) Race, Riots, and Roller Coasters: The Struggle Over Segregated Recreation in America. University of Pennsylvania Press.
- photos via and via

12 comments:

  1. Never thought about how Disneyland actually dealed with it. Thanks for the share, interesting find.

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    1. There is not much official information published about Disneyland at that time ... in fact, hardly any information. Thanks for your comment, Kenneth.

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  2. Amazing! Thanks!

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    1. The many facets of segregation...
      Many thanks for your comment, Abbie!

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  3. For a moment I thought that comments are disabled. Hu! Interesting posting, Laura! As always ;-)

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    1. Disabled comments? What a scary scenario! ;-)
      I suppose blogger shifted the comments to the top again (where I always wished them to be). This blog would not be what it is without your comments - I really appreciate them. Thank you.

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