Tuesday, August 5, 2014

BlackPast.org Blog: 'Surprise! Magicians'; First African American President of Society of American Magicians Elected in July 2014

Kenrick "Ice" McDonald

Henry "Box " Brown

BlackPast.org Blog

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hazel Singer writes:

The world of magicians, also known as illusionists, is not one that most of us enter, other than to be entertained. There is a long history of magicians in the African American community. The most recent entry into the history books is the election in July 2014 of Kenrick "Ice" McDonald as president of the Society of American Magicians, one of the most prestigious and oldest societies in the world. Mr. McDonald is the first African American to hold this post. An interview with Mr. McDonald can be heard at this link


The first known African American magician was Richard Potter, born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire in 1783. His father was a white British tax collector/baronet and his mother an African servant. He was educated in Europe and then had a successful 25 year career performing throughout New England and Canada. He died in 1835, aged 52. 

The most well known African American magician was Henry "Box" Brown. Mr Brown's legendary status was born when he shipped himself, in a box, from Richmond, Virginia to freedom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born in 1816, a slave on the Barrett plantation in Richmond, Virginia, he is believed to have died in 1889. While Mr. Brown did not practice the arts of illusion after his most amazing first act, that singular success sealed his reputation.

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