We are at the beginning of the twentieth century, at a time when people of “color” were still considered goods. Here is the story of the brothers Muses, black albinos kidnapped by a traveling circus in order to play a role of the most ungrateful.
George and Willie Muse were kidnapped in 1899 in Truevine, a town in the state of Virginia (USA), when they were nine and six years old respectively. At the time, black people were still assimilated to merchandise that had to be exploited. These two albino brothers had white skin, blue eyes, as well as long white dreadlocks sometimes deliberately erected on their head to accentuate their “spectacular” side. Their appearance considered “exotic” has aroused the desires of profit of two other brothers: the Ringling.
Exploited as beasts of fairs in a traveling circus, the two brothers Muse renamed Eko and Iko were presented as errors of nature, cannibals and sometimes even “ambassadors of the planet Mars”. True international stars between 1920 and 1930, well before the appearance of the small screen, the two brothers were invited to “occur” in places as prestigious as the Buckingham Palace or the Madison Square Garden where thousands of spectators massed To observe them.
Their mother, Harriet, could not accept this more than degrading situation, and defied white men for years to bring them back to their homeland, a real crusade.
Their story is told in a book called Truevine: Two Brothers, Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South . (See cover below)
Its author, journalist Beth Macy, spent 25 years deepening this story by investigating and interviewing Nancy Saunders, one of the descendants of the Muse brothers. Beth Macy was interviewed by the website Vice News in an article published poignant October 28, 2016.
Sources: Vice News – Time