Joe Turner's Come and Gone Historical Context

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Joe Turner

As one of the plays in his ten-play historical cycle, chronicling the African-American experience in the twentieth century, Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone is an overtly historical play. In this case, the play concerns what life was like for African Americans in the 1910s. Although slavery was technically illegal at this point, the notorious Joe Turner ignored the law and illegally impressed African Americans into slavery for seven years on his plantation. Says Herald, "Kept everybody seven years. He'd go out hunting and bring back forty men at a time." Actually, the name, "Joe Turner," is incorrect, historically speaking. Although the W. C. Handy song that Wilson bases his play on was called, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," the actual man that the song referred to was named "Joe Turney," the brother of Tennessee governor Pete Turney. This discrepancy is rarely mentioned by critics, most...

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This section contains 955 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Joe Turner's Come and Gone Study Guide
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Joe Turner's Come and Gone from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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