AUSTIN, Texas —
Jerry Conn is at the front of the classroom, showing Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor movie musical clips, holding forth on the connection between minstrelsy — whites imitating blacks imitating whites — blackface and the birth of rock 'n' roll.
"What do you think?" Conn asks the 35 or so people of a certain age in his history of rock 'n' roll class after playing a clip of Jolson singing in blackface. "Any reaction? Are you dumbfounded? Stunned?"
"It's amazing at how easily we accepted that as part of entertainment," one student says.