grew out of the wide variety of traditions that make up our diverse population. Many of these theatres reached their peak in the opening decades of the twentieth century because they provided art and entertainment for millions of new immigrants whose cultural and language differences, as well as outright discrimination, kept them out of the mainstream American life. One of the strongest forms of theatre of identity in the United States is that of black Americans. Legitimate plays written by blacks, about blacks, and for blacks were rare until the twentieth century. Before that, black characters were mainly stereotypes written by whites and even performed by whites.