The pageant written by Du Bois was first presented in 1913 as The People of Peoples and Their Gift to Man during New York’s commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and later renamed the Star of Ethiopia. From the beginning it was Du Bois’s intent to use the pageant to educate large numbers of African Americans about black history. Consisting of six episodes, the production traced black history from prehistoric days to ancient Egypt through American slavery, abolition, and the Civil War.
The show was a tour de force from every perspective calling for a cast of between 350-1,000 actors and lasting 3 hours. Given the expense and effort required to raise a production, the pageant was only performed three times after its initial staging in New York: Washington, D.C. (1915), Philadelphia (1916), and Hollywood Bowl (1925).