This image is an article of the Victorian actor, Ira Aldridge. The article was published in 'Dragon's teeth' (c1980) which was an educational journal article which aimed to promote positive images of Black people. Ira Aldridge (1807-1867) was born in New York City. He attended the African free school which was built to educate free people of colour and children of enslaved Africans. While at this school he was exposed to theatre and developed a passion for acting.
Aldridge made his acting debut in the early 1820s and in 1824 he emigrated to England with a view to excel his acting Career as Britain had a flourishing theatre scene. The wealth generated from the enslavement of Africans in the British colonies helped to finance the industrial revolution during this period. This triggered radical economic growth in Britain and part of this wealth was used to expand the British theatre scene.
Ira performed roles at the Royal Coburg Theatre which is now called the Old Vic theatre in Waterloo, London. Initially, his critics were harsh and noted his lack of formal training. The harsh critics did not discourage Ira who continued to act and perform prestigious roles such as Othello. He received rave reviews for his later performances.
He used his privilege and platform to challenge injustice and frequently spoke out against enslavement after his performances. Ira Aldridge was one of many privileged black individuals who challenged racial discrimination and injustice. Some of these individuals included Ida B.Wells and Celestine Edwards.