Bessie Smith And Other Influential Black Stars Who Shaped Pop Culture

May 13, 2015  |  

’30s

Most of the decade was about individuals trying to come through the Great Depression and preparing for World War II. But one thing that found a way to flourish was jazz. Swing became one of the most popular forms. The musical stylings of Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holliday enchanted individuals of all backgrounds. James Weldon Johnson’s autobiography was the first book by an African-American to be critiqued by the New York Times, and Jesse Owens stunned the world (including Adolf Hitler), by winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. And who could forget Marian Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial in front of more than 70,000 people?

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