The Kake Walk at UVM collection is now available online in the UVM Libraries' Center for Digital Initiatives at http://cdi.uvm.edu.
Kake Walk was an 80 year campus tradition at the University of Vermont based, in part, on minstrel theatre and the turn-of-the-century cakewalk dance craze. The synchronized dance competition known as “a-walkin’ fo’ de kake” was the highlight of Winter Carnival weekend and featured fraternity brothers in blackface and kinky wigs high-stepping to the tune of “Cotton Babes."
The event, abolished in 1969, occupies a controversial position in institutional memory, representing, for some, a hallowed legacy of creativity, school spirit, and leadership and for others, overt racism. With only one known scholarly piece on Kake Walk at the time of the collection’s launch (a chapter by former UVM professor James Loewen), a credible, well-described digital collection will support much-needed study of this unique cultural phenomenon.
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