Bessie Smith And Other Influential Black Stars Who Shaped Pop Culture

May 13, 2015  |  


A major time for the Civil Rights Movement as the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 was made into a law; it was also a big time for African Americans to have an impact on pop culture. Wilma Rudolph’s accomplishments on the tennis court (including three gold medals) earned her the title of Athlete of the Year by the United Press in 1960. Aretha Franklin took the music world by storm with her classic hit, “Respect,” and “Shop Around” by the Miracles was Motown Record’s first big hit, the first one to sell one million records. The Supremes were the girl group to beat with a whopping 12 number one singles in just five years, Jimi Hendrix dominated, and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” had everyone…well, dancing to the music. Also, Diahann Carroll’s groundbreaking show, Julia, made its debut on NBC in 1968. Natural afros were turning heads and Muhammad Ali’s wins in the boxing ring, his cockiness, his conversion to the Nation of Islam, and his refusal to fight in the Vietnam war had everyone talking.

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