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Black Magic: Richard Potter Reappears

Courtesy of Historic Northampton, Northampton, Massachusetts

Two hundred years ago, Richard Potter was one of the most coveted performers in America. He garnered nationwide fame through magic and ventriloquism and made popular entertainment a fixture of American life.

He was also black, born in 1783. His father had previously been enslaved.

In the new book, “Richard Potter: America’s First Celebrity,” author John A. Hodgson pieces together Potter’s enigmatic life and illuminates just how groundbreaking he really was as a performer and a public figure. He also asks how Potter could have gone from being one of the most famous men in America to a relative unknown today.


John Hodgson, Author, “Richard Potter: America’s First Black Celebrity”

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