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Hattie McDaniel – Groundbreaking

Groundbreaking – breaking new ground; innovative; pioneering.

Hattie McDaniel became one of the first African American women to sing on radio by the 1920s. She became the first African American to win an oscar for her supporting role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” in 1940. An amazing feat seeing as though all of the film’s black actors were barred from attending the film’s premiere held in Atlanta, Ga.

McDaniel underwent scrutiny from the black community. They believed the she further perpetuated the stereotype of the African American as nothing more than a menial worker. However, by 1947, she starred on CBS radio’s The Beulah Show. Although she played a maid she managed to use her talents to break racial stereotypes.

Unfortunately, McDaniel suffered a heart attack around the same time they began filming a television version of the show. Actress Louise Beavers took over her role, which had initially been played by Ethel Waters.

McDaniel has been posthumously awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in addition to being inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Is there any reason to think anything other than groundbreaking when you think of Hattie McDaniel?

I did my best, and God did the rest. – Hattie McDaniel

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