Bessie Smith And Other Influential Black Stars Who Shaped Pop Culture

May 13, 2015  |  


African Americans continued to make significant strides on the world stage while still struggling to obtain basic rights and respect. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry. Juanita Hall was the first African American to win a Tony for her work in South Pacific. The NBA finally allowed black players to have a shot on the hardwood (big ups to Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton, and Earl Lloyd). And Ralph Ellison published the iconic novel, Invisible Man while James Baldwin published his first novel, the classic Go Tell It On The Mountain. Chuck Berry first introduced the world to rock and roll with his hit song, “Maybellene,” Harry Belafonte’s “Calypso” was the first record to sell more than one million copies, and Miles Davis released his greatest work, Kind of Blue. Nat King Cole becomes the first Black to host a primetime show on TV, and in 1959, Motown Records is founded. The label would go on to take over the music world. And who didn’t love Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones?

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