African dodger

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A wooden African Dodger head

African dodger (or Hit the Coon) was a carnival game played in the United States, in which an African-American male or a white male in blackface would stick his head through a canvas curtain, and attempt to dodge objects thrown at him by players.[1] It was popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, despite the obvious brutality of hitting people in the head with baseballs.

Denis Mercier of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University notes that in 1878 wooden heads were marketed as an alternative to live targets, as were wooden helmets with curly hair to protect the target.[2] Smaller kit-based versions of the game were also sold to be played at home. However, live African-Americans continued to be used for similar games, with Popular Mechanics noting in 1910 that "African dodger" had become "too old and commonplace" and was being replaced with dunk tanks in which an African-American would fall into a tank of water when a target was hit with a ball. The illustration accompanying the article shows a game labeled "Drop the Chocolate Drop" and is captioned "Amusing to All but the Victim".[1]


  1. ^ a b [1]. Popular Mechanics., Nov 1910. Hearst Magazines, ISSN 0032-4558. Pg 693
  2. ^ Denis Mercier, Ph.D. From Hostility to Reverence: 100 Years of African-American Imagery in Games, Jim Crow Museum site