The circus has, until recently, not been a welcoming place for Blacks.
Blacks were either displayed as freaks or given the role of unpaid sideshow slave to the ringmaster, the director of circus performance.
Today, Blacks have a new place when it comes to circus thanks to Cedric Walker, an African American from Baltimore, Maryland.
He started UniverSoul Circus, a single ring circus in 1994, to showcase black culture and talent.
“The vision was to explore the various talents other than singing and dancing that black performers had to offer,” the man who was originally a concert promoter and had always been fond of circus once said.
Walker’s historic first show of “The Universal Big Top Circus,” as it was then called, took place in 1994 in the parking lot of Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.
He and his team lost every penny that was put into the performance but they received applause and reviews from fans and that propelled them to continue with their dream.
By 1997 the circus tour grew to 10 cities, 19 cities in 1999, 31 cities in 2000, and 32 cities in 2005. In 2001, they had their first international tour in South Africa.
Now in its 25th year, the circus, currently with performers from at least 24 different countries around the world and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, continues to entertain families across the world.
Their power-packed performances combine circus arts, theatre, and music that spans genres including Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop, Classic R&B, Latin, and Gospel.
This year, the ‘circus with the soul’ commemorated its 25th anniversary and rocked so many places including the tri-state in Queens, Brooklyn, Mt. Vernon and Newark.
UniverSoul, though Black-owned, has since been bridging cultures from around the world with their multicultural display of performances.
Watch one of their performances below: