Blast From The Past:
OUR HAMITE AWARD WINNER FOR 1956:
Charles Spurgeon Johnson
Charles Spurgeon Johnson was an American sociologist and college administrator, the first black president of historically black Fisk University, and a lifelong advocate for racial equality and the advancement of civil rights for African Americans and all ethnic minorities. He preferred to work collaboratively with liberal white groups in the South, quietly as a "sideline activist," to get practical results.
His position is often contrasted with that of W. E. B. Du Bois, who was an influential and militant advocate for blacks and described Johnson as "too conservative." Johnson was unwavering in personal terms in his opposition to Jim Crow's oppressive system, yet worked hard to change race relations regarding short-term practical gains.
Johnson was born in 1893 in Bristol, Virginia, to well-educated parents. His father was a respected Baptist minister, and his mother was educated in public school. He attended a boarding school in Richmond, Virginia, then earned a B.A. in sociology from Virginia Union University.
Afterward, he began a graduate study of sociology at the University of Chicago, though his education was interrupted by service in France during World War I as a non-commissioned officer in the US Army. After returning to the US, he resumed graduate work at the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D. in sociology.
After the race riot of 1919, when blacks fought back against white attacks as part of the urban violence in numerous cities during Red Summer, Johnson worked as a researcher for the National Urban League and in 1921, he became the League’s research director.
During his time with the National Urban League, he also founded the magazine Opportunity as an outlet for black expression in the arts. He was a principal researcher and author for the Chicago Commission on Race Relations for its report on the riot. Newspapers of the period had reported that the instigators were largely ethnic Irish trying to maintain economic and social dominance over blacks in South Chicago.
In the 1920s Johnson moved to New York City, where he became research director of the National Urban League. Johnson yearned to return to the South, not only to study race relations but to change them. In 1926 he moved to Nashville, taking a position as chair of the Department of Sociology at Fisk University, a historically black college. In 1946 Johnson was appointed as the first black president of Fisk University.
Johnson lived to celebrate the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which ruled that racial segregation in the public schools was unconstitutional. Johnson played a key role in the effort to implement the decision in the face of "massive resistance" in the South. His work and that of his peers also contributed to passage of federal civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s.
Here's a man that walked quietly but carried a big stick. Charles Spurgeon Johnson was an intelligent man who could have gotten a nice job or started his own business, and no doubt with his drive and determination would have been successful even in the face of persistent racism.
But what did he choose to do with his life? He wanted to help his own, what an excellent quality and we are forever indebted to him for his choice. We gladly bestow him with the 1956 Hamite Award. He taught us that we can all have a share in making our community better, and can do it effectively behind the scenes if that's our nature to do so.
In 1930 Johnson was awarded the Harmon Prize for Science, for his work, The Black person in American Civilization.
He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. He was also a charter member of the Zeta Rho chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity, chartered at Fisk in 1953.
Johnson died unexpectedly in 1956. He was traveling by train from Nashville to New York when he had a heart attack on the platform at a stop in Louisville, Kentucky. He was sixty-three years old.
Charles Spurgeon Johnson |
|How were blacks feeling in 1956?
Fox Lake Resort |
Moving on up to the eastside!!!! That's what I'm talking about. We finally have a place to travel for fun and relaxation. We just hope our white American brothers don't burn it down or deny/jack up the electricity and water rates or claim eminent domain like they did with other resorts blacks attempted to set up.
Even though the average black person cannot afford to visit or live in Fox Lake, it's still nice to know some of our peoples are enjoying the life and gives us the motivation to fight even harder this high wall of racism. I ain't mad at cha!
The Fox Lake resort community was developed in Angola, Indiana specifically for African Americans in the 1930s, when such communities were quite rare. In the years between World War I and World War II, and for some time after that, African American were not welcomed to traditionally white resort communities. Fox Lake provided black families with a place of their own where they could escape the heat of the cities and enjoy the pleasures of summertime activities. The historic district contains 32 relatively modest lake cottages, most of which were constructed before World War II.
Occasionally big-name musicians were booked for dances at the clubhouse, which was surrounded by tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and basketball hoops. Saddle horses were available until the early 1950s. Other activities included trap shooting matches, weekly Family Night at the restaurant, and Sunday school held on the beach under the trees.
Today, Fox Lake is still a prosperous black community. Its traditions are still maintained by many second- and third-generation owners, who occupy a large number of the cottages.
What an absolutely wonderful history!!!
American Beach, Florida
American Beach, Florida was founded in 1935 by Florida's first black millionaire, Abraham Lincoln Lewis, and his Afro-American Life Insurance Company. The plan was for his employees to have a place to vacation and own homes for their families by the shore.
(thank you so much Abraham, we needed this!) Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, summers at American Beach were busy with families, churches, and children. It was a place where African Americans could enjoy "Recreation and Relaxation Without Humiliation." The beach included hotels, restaurants, bathhouses and nightclubs as well as homes and other businesses.
American Beach played host to numerous celebrities during this period, including folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, singer Billie Daniels, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Billy Eckstein, Hank Aaron, Joe Louis, actor Ossie Davis, and Sherman Hemsley. We know they had some fun! That's what I'm talking bout!
For the year 1956:
- Althea Gibson was the first African-American to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open).
- Nat King Cole was the first African-American network television show host.
- Charles Gittens was the first African-American U.S. Secret Service agent.
- Bobby Grier was the first African-American to break the color barrier in a bowl game in the Deep South.
- Don Newcombe was the first African-American to win the Cy Young Award as the top pitcher in Major League Baseball.
- photo #106-yr-1927
| Sports in 1956 |
- Althea Gibson won the American Tennis Association (ATA) (which is the oldest African-American sports organization in the United States.) NY State Championship, and the ATA national championship in the girls' division in 1944-1945, after losing in the women's final in 1946, she won her first of ten straight national ATA women's titles in 1947-1957.
- 1956 - Althea Gibson became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam title (the French Open).
- Willie Mays hit 36 homers and stole 40 bases, being the first National League player, to join the "30-30 club".
- Donald Newcombe became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP and the Cy Young in the same season.
- Frank Robinson as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, was named Rookie of the Year.
- George Dixon was inducted into the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame. Trivia: George Dixon is the inventor of Shadowboxing.
- November 30, 1956 - Floyd Patterson KOs Archie Moore in 5 rounds for the heavyweight boxing title.
- December 1, 1956 - Frank Robinson (NL) & Luis Aparicio (AL) were voted Rookie of the Year.
- December 3, 1956 - Wilt Chamberlain's first collegiate basketball game he score 52 points.
- December 13, 1956 - Dodgers trade Jackie Robinson to Giants for pitcher Dick Littlefield & $35,000. An angry Robinson will retire rather than be traded.
|| Famous African American Quotes |
President Barack Obama - At a fundraising event for Senator Barbara Boxer, President Barack Obama referred to Newcombe (who was attending the event)
"I would not be here if it were not for Jackie and it were not for Don Newcombe."
CREDIT: Roy Wilkins in press conference with Autherine Lucy and Thurgood Marshall, director and special counsel for NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund." 1956 March 2.
| Education in 1956 |
- 1956 - Autherine Juanita Lucy was the first black student to attend the University of Alabama, in 1956.
Trivia: Autherine attended her first class on Friday February 3, 1956. On Monday, February 6, 1956, riots broke out on the campus, and a mob of more than a thousand men pelted the car in which the Dean of Women drove Lucy between classes. Threats were made against her life, and the president's home was stoned. After the riots, the University suspended Autherine from school because her safety was a concern. Racist white America won that battle but would go on to lose the war. We can smell the enforcement of our Civil Rights now, there is no turning back. We wonder why our president didn't step in and forcefully demand justice, what better cause than to defend the rights of American citizens, and in doing so would have been on the side of what is right. If I were Eisenhower, I would have gone to Alabama to personally set the moral tone for the nation. Blacks were waiting for this type of leadership, and maybe some white people too. It would have given them a sense of direction. I t is noted that every U.S. President failed the black person except Grant, Garfield, Harrison, Roosevelt, Truman and of course Lincoln. The others were no-shows for black Americans.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
| Political Scene in 1956 |
- Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Analysis: Dwight D. Eisenhower was raised in a very religious household and some of his values followed him into later life. When receiving backlash from the Navy because of a refusal to integrate fully, Eisenhower made the statement that America is not taking one step backward in Civil Rights of blacks. Why? It wasn't because it was the right and moral thing to do, it was because Communists around the world who were using the racial discrimination and history of violence in the U.S. as a point of propaganda attack. Well, I guess we'll take justice anyway we can get it. Many positive changes happened for the black person during this period because of Communism. Eisenhower told District of Columbia officials to make Washington a model for the rest of the country in integrating black and white public school children. He proposed to Congress the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960 and signed those acts into law. "There must be no second-class citizens in this country" he stated.
- June 5, 1956 - Browder v. Gayle, was a case heard before a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on Montgomery and Alabama state bus segregation laws. The district court's ruling on June 5, 1956, held that bus segregation was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment protections for equal treatment.
Who is this man? |
His name was George Kennan, who was an American diplomat and historian, who served as ambassador to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. He was known best as an advocate of a policy of containment of Soviet expansion during the Cold War on which he later reversed himself. He lectured widely and wrote scholarly histories of the relations between USSR and the United States. He was also one of the groups of foreign policy elders known as "The Wise Men."
If you've ever wondered how the world became such a hateful and dangerous place, this man George Kennan explains it for us. Kennan didn't have any great powers to implement his ideas and was a Cold War strategist to various leaders in American history who obviously listened to much of what he had to say.
Memo PPS23 (1948) "Memo PPS23", written 28 February 1948, declassified 17 June 1974
We must be very careful when we speak of exercising "leadership" in Asia. We are deceiving ourselves and others when we pretend to have answers to the problems, which agitate many of these Asiatic peoples. Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3 of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia.
In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.
In the face of this situation, we would be better off to dispense now with some the concepts which have underlined our thinking about the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to 'be liked' or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism.
We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers' keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague — and for the Far East — unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
Do you think leaders of America are overstepping their boundaries with these strategies?
|| sLANG tALK in 1956 |
- Baby - term of endearment to the opposite sex
- Bread - money, cash, moola
- Cookin' - doing something very well
- Cool it - forceful way of saying to stop doing what you're doing fool
- Cooties - considers another person dirty in a playful way
- Cut out - to leave the scene
- Dibs - wants a share
- Dig - understand
- Flick - a movie
- Gig - a job
- Give me five - a favorable greeting
- Heat - danger, usually the police are close or could mean a gun
- Hip - cool, everything under control, up to date, trendsetter
- Made in the shade - complete success at something
- Make out - kissing or could mean to be discovered by someone
- No sweat - no problem, everything is under control
- Pad - the house, home
- Punk - weak person, considered not cool to hang around
- Split - leave the scene
- Square - a person who is not hip, slow, not with the times
- The man - police
- Tight - everything is completely together, flawless.
Movies in America
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
Jack Benny's radio shows cast
Nat King Cole
| Television / Movies in 1956 |
- Meet Me in Las Vegas - Lena Horne (MGM musical comedy)
- Starting in the year of 1937, a new funny man would co-star on the Jack Benny Show. This man went by the name of Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. Eddie's character of "Rochester" generated much laughter, becoming immensely popular and would become a household name from 1937 to 1965 in America. The humor on the show was the usual stereotypical stuff that blacks had to endure, but later it would become a stepping stone for many successful comedians to follow. Eddie became the first black to have a regular role on a nationwide radio program. The show started on radio and moved to television in 1951 until it went off the air in the 1964-1965 season. Trivia :
Anderson was frequently late for the show. Benny attempted to instill punctuality in Anderson by fining him $50 each time he arrived late at the studio. Anderson had a habit of losing track of time, especially when he was talking with someone. Must have had something to say huh Eddie?
- November 11, 1956 - Nat King Cole becomes the first African American to host a prime time variety show on national television.
Sugar Ray Leonard
| Famous Birthdays in 1956 |
- February 12, 1956 - Arsenio Hall is an African-American talk show host and comedian.
- March 5, 1956 - Teena Marie was an African-American singer, OOPS, I mean white American songwriter, and producer. She was known by her childhood nickname Tina before taking the stage name Teena Marie; she later acquired the nickname of Lady Tee (sometimes spelled Lady T), given to her by collaborator and friend, Rick James.
- May 4, 1956 - Sharon Jones was an American soul and funk singer. She was the lead singer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, a soul and funk band based in Brooklyn, New York. Trivia: Jones suffered a stroke while watching the 2016 United States presidential election results and another the following day. Jones remained alert and lucid during the initial period of her hospital stay, jokingly claiming that the news of Donald Trump's victory was responsible for her stroke.
- May 17, 1956 - Sugar Ray Leonard former professional American boxer, motivational speaker, and occasional actor.
- June 4, 1956 - Keith David Williams better known as Keith David, is an American film, television, voice actor, and singer.
- June 26, 1956 - Bernard Anthony Harris, Jr. former NASA astronaut. On February 9, 1995, Harris became the first African American to perform an extra-vehicular activity (spacewalk), during the second of his two Space Shuttle flights.
- July 3, 1956 - Montel Williams is an African-American television personality, radio talk show host, and actor.
- July 13, 1956 - Michael Spinks an American former boxer who was an Olympic gold medalist and world champion in the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. Trivia: Spinks is the rare top fighter who left the sport with both money and his health and never returned to the ring. Aside from a rare event honoring him and occasionally attending fights, Spinks has remained off the boxing scene and out of the public eye. The former champion lives privately in a seven-bedroom house, not including the guest house, on a five-acre spread outside Wilmington, Delaware. However, he has been known for visiting schools—carrying his gold medal and four title belts—where he tells kids to pursue their dreams. "Most of the kids don't have a clue who I am," he says, "but they listen when they see all the gold."
- August 4, 1956 - Baba Professor X the Overseer was born the son of Brooklyn-based activist Sonny Carson.
- September 20, 1956 - Debbi Morgan an American film and television actress. She is best known for her role as Dr. Angie Hubbard on the ABC soap opera All My Children, and for her role as The Seer in the fourth and fifth seasons of Charmed.
- September 30, 1956 - Vondie Curtis-Hall is an African-American actor and film director and television director.
- October 11, 1956 - Debra Martin Chase is a two-time Emmy nominated motion picture and television producer and former lawyer who is the first African American woman to have a solo producing deal at a major studio.
- October 17, 1956 - Mae Jemison is an African-American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
- November 10, 1956 - Sinbad is an African-American stand-up comedian and actor.
- November 29, 1956 - Hinton Battle is an African-American actor, dancer, and dance instructor. He has won three Tony Awards, all in the category of Featured Actor in a Musical.
- December 18, 1956 - T. K. Carter is an African-American comedian and actor.
Charles Spurgeon Johnson
| Famous Deaths in 1956 |
- March 9, 1956 - Amanda Ira Aldridge was a British opera singer, teacher and composer, under the pseudonym of Montague Ring.
- October 27, 1956 - Charles Spurgeon Johnson was an American sociologist and college administrator, the first black president of historically black Fisk University, and a lifelong advocate for racial equality and the advancement of civil rights for African Americans and all ethnic minorities.
- November 1, 1956 - Tommy Johnson was an influential American delta blues musician, who recorded in the late 1920s, and was known for his eerie falsetto voice and intricate guitar playing.
- 1956 - Augustus Granville Dill received his BA from Atlanta University in 1906, received a second BA from Harvard in 1908, and received his MA in 1909 from Harvard. During his career in academia he made early and major contributions to race relations in labor. He was never married, and, in 1928, was arrested for homosexual activities. He died in 1956.
| Famous Weddings in 1956 |
- February 11, 1956 - Floyd Patterson married Sandra Hicks in 1956.
- February 8, 1956 - Eddie "Rochester" Anderson and Evangela "Eva" Simon were wed.
- February 1956 - Willie Mays and Margherite Chapman are wed.
- March 14, 1956 - James Meredith and Mary June Wiggins were wed in holy matrimony.
- July 22, 1956 - Redd Foxx and Betty Jean Harris are wed.
- 1956 - Greg Morris and Leona Keyes are wed.
- 1956 - Diahann Carroll and Monte Kay are wed.
- 1956 - Harry Haywood and Gwendolyn Midlo were wed in holy matrimony.
- 1956 - Charley Pride and Rozene Cohan were wed in holy matrimony.
| Famous Divorces in 1956 |
- 1956 - Cissy Houston and Freddie Garland were divorced.
- 1956 - Bo Diddley and Ethel-mae Smith were divorced.
The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African Americans, commonly referred to simply as the "Green Book". It was published from 1936 to 1966, during the Jim Crow era, when discrimination against non-whites was widespread.
Middle-class blacks took to driving in part to avoid segregation on public transportation. Blacks employed as salesmen, entertainers, and athletes also traveled frequently for work purposes. African American travelers faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences, such as white-owned businesses refusing to serve them or repair their vehicles, being refused accommodation or food by white-owned hotels, and threats of physical violence and forcible expulsion from whites-only "sundown towns". New York mailman and travel agent Victor H. Green published The Negro Motorist Green Book to tackle such problems and "to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable." The Green Book became "the bible of black travel during Jim Crow." These people were crazy on the for real side! You can bet the Chitlin' Circuit entertainers used the Green Book.
| It's a Party in 1956 |
- Back in the early 1900s because of prejudice and racial discrimination, black entertainers had to be very careful where they traveled. They weren't always welcome in various venues, so they created what's called a Chitlin Circuit. They named it Chitlin Circuit because of blacks typical love for soul food with chitlins being near the top as favorite. So, in other words, they understood there would be love on the circuit. They knew that the clubs, juke joints, theaters, etc. in the circuit were welcoming of the black race and safe to visit. This way of life existing from the early 1900s - 1960s. Noted theaters and entertainers on the circuit included:
The Fox Theatre in Detroit; the Victory Grill in Austin, Texas; the Carver Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama; the Cotton Club, Small's Paradise and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre in Chicago; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.;the Royal Peacock in Atlanta; the Royal Theatre in Baltimore; the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia; the Hippodrome Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida; and The Madam C. J. Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis.
Early figures of blues, including Robert Johnson, Son House, Charley Patton, and countless others, traveled the juke joint circuit, scraping out a living on tips and free meals. These entertainers provided much-needed joy and happiness for black folks. Once the band's gig was over, they would leave for the next stop on the circuit. Sounds like a lot of fun and an exciting life!
Many notable performers worked on the chitlin' circuit, including Patti LaBelle, Count Basie, Hammond B-3, Jeff Palmer, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Sheila Guyse, Peg Leg Bates, The Supremes, George Benson, James Brown & The Famous Flames, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ella Fitzgerald, The Jackson 5, Redd Foxx, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, John Lee Hooker, Lena Horne, Etta James, B.B. King, The Miracles, Donna Hightower, Moms Mabley, The Delfonics, Wilson Pickett, Richard Pryor, Otis Redding, Duke Ellington, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Little Richard, Ike & Tina Turner, The Four Tops, Tammi Terrell, The Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Muddy Waters, Flip Wilson and Jimmie Walker.
Jitterbugging in Negro juke joint,
Saturday evening, outside Clarksdale, Mississippi
An African American couple dance the jitterbug in front
of a crowd. Los Angeles California.
Fun At The Beach?
The Negro has historically been excluded from every aspect of American life and success, but what about the public beaches, was he made to feel unwelcome there also?
In a word. HELL YEAH. I'm sorry, that's two words.
If a Negro and his family attempted to visit a public beach, he would be met with sure violence from whites.
It wasn't until after the Civil Rights protest in the 60s that the fight for equal access to public accommodations made it illegal to exclude the Negro.
One popular beach that blacks congregated was in Southern California. It was called "Ink Well" for obvious reasons. It served the black community very well.
You're not going to believe how blacks acquired another little piece of paradise in the same area called Bruce's Beach. A wonderful white American brother named George H. Peck who was a wealthy developer and the founder of Manhattan Beach, "bucked" the practice of racial exclusion and set aside two city blocks of the beachfront area and made them available for purchase by African Americans.
Jumping on this incredible opportunity, Willa and Charles Bruce purchased property in the Strand area and built a bathhouse, and dining area that catered to blacks. Peck would also go on to develop "Peck's Pier," the only pier in the area open to African Americans. In time because of increased racial tension and the value of beachfront property rising, the city pushed the blacks out claiming the eminent domain law. This type of exclusion was typical all across America for the Negro.
African American music sprang from our robust and beautiful ancestors into an original contribution to American culture without a doubt. It changed everything. Is it safe to say that without black music and dance, there would never have been a Elvis Presley? Elvis never denied his love of African American music and dance and how he imitated it and sought at an early age to integrate the races for the love of music.
In an interview with the Charlotte Observer on June 26, 1956, Elvis explained the origins of his music:
The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m don’ now for more years than I know. They played it like that in the shanties and in their juke joints and nobody paid it no mind ‘til I goose it up.
I got it from them, down in Tupelo, Mississippi I used to hear old Arthur Crudup band his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw.
Elvis Presley appreciated black music and paved the way for performers like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Bo Diddley who weren't allowed to perform to mainstream America because of racial prejudice. There were rumors during Presley's career that he made negative comments about blacks, but this website was unable to locate a reliable source but was easily able to find many favorable things said about this great American performer in how he felt about blacks.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley (read racial issues)
Fats Domino singing "Blueberry Hill" on the "Alan Freed Show" 1956
Nat King Cole
| Music in 1956 |
Billboard Top Soul Hits:
Popular Soul Dances:
- January 7, 1956 "The Great Pretender" — The Platters
- January 7, 1956 "At My Front Door" — The El Dorados
- March 17, 1956 "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" — Frankie Lymon & Teenagers
- March 24, 1956 "Drown in My Own Tears" — Ray Charles
- April 14, 1956 "Long Tall Sally" — Little Richard
- May 19, 1956 "I'm in Love Again" — Fats Domino
- July 21, 1956 "Fever" — Little Willie John
- July 28, 1956 "Treasure of Love" — Clyde McPhatter
- August 4, 1956 "Rip It Up" — Little Richard
- August 18, 1956 "My Prayer" — The Platters
- August 25, 1956 "Honky Tonk" (Parts 1 & 2) — Bill Doggett
- September 1, 1956 "Let the Good Times Roll" — Shirley & Lee
- November 13, 1956 "Blueberry Hill" — Fats Domino
Musical Happenings in 1956:
- The Bop
- The Stroll
- The Hand Jive
- The Cha Cha
- The Twist
- Bosa Nova
- The creation of the Doo-wop sound:
Doo-wop is a genre of music that was developed in African-American communities all across America achieving mainstream popularity in the 1950s and early '60s. Built upon vocal harmony, doo-wop was one of the most mainstream, pop-oriented R&B styles of the time. In it's beginning, singers would gather on street corners, and in subways, generally in groups of three to six. They sang a cappella arrangements, and would mimic certain instruments since instruments were little used: the bass singing "bom-bom-bom", a guitar rendered as "shang-a-lang" and brass riffs as "dooooo -wop-wop".
- Cover versions:
A cover version or cover song, is simply a copy of the original song sung by another artist. Pat Boone had many cover version hits from songs he copied from African American artist and always out-sold the original version until he duplicated Little Richards "Long Tall Sally" which he wasn't able to out-perform. Later the cover versions of popular songs by African-American artists decline, in large part because the original, African American recording begins to outsell the covers.
- Nat King Cole, the pioneer:
One of the greatest, if not the greatest singers of all time, Nat King Cole becomes the first black to headline a TV network variety series, called "The Nat King Cole Show".
Nat King Cole attacked onstage:
- April 10, 1956 - Members of the Alabama Citizens' Council literally assault Nat King Cole onstage, knocking him to the ground and trying to kidnap him. Cole later made the following controversial remarks that led to the NAACP labeling him an Uncle Tom.
“I can’t understand it. I have not taken part in any protests. Nor have I joined an organization fighting segregation. Why should they attack me? I’d just like to forget about the whole thing,”
- Dizzy Gillespie's jazz orchestra becomes the first such group to be officially recognized by the U.S. government, when it is chosen to tour as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department
- Harry Belafonte's "Calypso," is the first album in United States history to sell more than one million copies.
1950s Mens Fashions
1950s Men's Fashions
1950s Women's Fashions
2.Actress Diahann Carroll wears a full-skirted dress with a small Peter Pan collar
360 Waves hairstyle
American jazz violinist Eddie South
with a conk hairdo.
Black couple in the 1950s
| Fashions in 1956 |
Immediately after the war, men's suits were broad-shouldered and often double-breasted. As wartime restrictions on fabric eased, trousers became fuller, and were usually styled with cuffs (turn-ups). Dark charcoal gray was the usual color, and the era of the gray flannel suit was born. By the later 1950s, a new Continental style of suit appeared from the fashion houses of Italy, with sharper shoulders, lighter fabrics, shorter, fitted jackets and narrower lapels. Hawaiian shirts, worn untucked from suspenders, also became widely popular during this era. Some young men wore tight trousers or jeans, leather jackets, and white tee shirts. Browline eyeglasses were commonly worn by men during the 1950s and early 1960s.
A popular style of brassiere for women during the 1950s was the "bullet bra", where cups were pointed in a conical shape. This brassiere design was popularized by famous actresses of that day. Women who had worn trousers on war service refused to abandon these practical garments which suited the informal aspects of the post-war lifestyle. Casual sportswear was an increasingly large component of women's wardrobes. Casual skirts were narrow or very full. In the 1950s, pants became very narrow, and were worn ankle-length.
Shorts were very short in the early '50s, and mid-thigh length Bermuda shorts appeared around 1954 and remained fashionable through the remainder of the decade. Loose printed or knit tops were fashionable with pants or shorts. They also wore bikinis to sport training.
Swimsuits were one- or two-piece; some had loose bottoms like shorts with short skirts. Bikinis appeared in Europe but were not worn in America in the 1950s.
- Men's Hairstyles:
The conk, which was derived from congolene, a hair straightener gel made from lye was a hairstyle very popular among African-American men from the 1920s to the 1960s. This hairstyle called for a man with naturally "kinky" hair to have it chemically straightened using a relaxer, sometimes the pure corrosive chemical lye, so that the newly straightened hair could be styled in specific ways. Back in those days, you were cool to have a conk job done.
- 360 Waves Hairstyle is generally worn by men. The hair is cropped short to the head in the styling of a Caesar cut. There are brushing techniques that will result in the resemblance of "oceanic waves" in the hair. In the 1950s African American males would straighten their hair with a homemade lye relaxer or one from the barber shop and have a texturizing cream put in for a wave pattern. This was commonly worn by young men in Doo-wop groups.
- Women's Hairstyles:
The hot comb was an invention developed in France as a way for women with coarse curly hair to achieve a fine straight look traditionally modeled by historical Egyptian women. However, it was Annie Malone who first patented this tool, while her protégé and former worker, Madam CJ Walker widened the teeth. Today, hot combs are still used by many African-American beauticians and families as an alternative to chemical hair straightening. Many African American and women of other races, still utilize hot combs because this form of straightening is temporary and less damaging to the hair if done properly.
- Braiding Hairstyles:
Historically, hair braiding was not a paid trade. Since the African diaspora, in the 20th and 21st centuries it has developed as a multi-million dollar business in such regions as the United States and western Europe. An individual's hair groomer was usually someone whom they knew closely. Sessions included shampooing, oiling, combing, braiding, and twisting, plus adding accessories.
How did "acting" Cool begin for African Americans?|
It seems like it's been around forever and
expected of every black kid growing up
For most blacks, cool started on the southern plantations. Opportunists slavemasters devised a way for slaves to work harder and reap the benefits of their labor. During the year at a chosen plantation slave masters would hold a "Corn Shucking Festival." Slaves from nearby plantations would also join this event with their owner's permission, so it was almost like a community gathering of all the local slaves, with greedy slavemasters making all the money.
The slave who shucked the most corn won an award, sometimes cash or a suit of clothes. Anyone who found a red ear of corn also received a reward - perhaps a kiss from a young woman or a jug of whiskey. It was at these events that the term Shuckin' and jivin' came into existence by the slaves while working and telling tall stories, talking smack, and joking around with each other.
These gatherings, even though involving hard work had to be an event looked forward to by the slaves, because it was one of the few times during the year blacks had a chance to interact with one another. Shuckin' and jivin' would become a tool the slaves would use to convince their masters of an untruth, and even among themselves. It was an early form of being cool.
After slavery blacks were free (sort of) to do as they pleased. Most blacks wanted to assimilate into American culture very much but were shut out by the white racist. African and European culture met head on in what was supposed to be fair in America guaranteed by our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, but blacks didn't stand a chance.
Why, what happened?
Because most whites banded together by breaking the law and made blacks second class citizens and would go on to murder, lynch, rape, humiliate them all the way until the 1960s Civil Rights movement. After Lincoln, every single United States President was aware of this and did nothing. Whites achieved like crazy and prospered while blacks lagged far behind and got along the best way they knew how.
Blacks disliked whites very much for this terrible treatment and instead of violent disobedience, they protested by living their lives opposite of white culture. I mean let's face it, why would blacks want to imitate or become a part of a race of people that hated them?
This is when being cool became a symbol of white resistance and protest. Being cool would show you were down with the struggle. During slavery, we had already created our language which was AAVE and many blacks communicated this way. Any black that did not use it was looked down as trying to act white, joining the enemy sort of speak.
We developed our own way of walking with a proud gait, (George Jefferson strut) our own style of music, our own style of dance, our own style of food, our own style of worship, that didn't have anything in common with white folks and that suited blacks just fine. We were poor, but we were proud and cool and everyone who practiced these traits was cool and a part of the resistance.
In the process, we were creating a new culture that was admired over the world. Blacks have always had a remarkable ability to create something out of nothing. But sadly there was significant risk with this lifestyle in a great country such as America.
What were the downfalls?
Oscar Micheaux felt it was wrong for blacks to live this way in America. Oscar was an African American author, film director and independent producer of more than 44 movies and he is regarded as the first major African-American feature filmmaker, the most successful African-American filmmaker of the first half of the twentieth century and the most prominent producer of race films. He produced both silent movies and "talkies" after the industry changed to incorporate speaking actors.
Oscar felt that blacks should become aggressive and use their brainpower in achieving instead of just settling for what the white man doled out. This man lived in some of the most racist times in American history, but he didn't let that stop him from fulfilling his dreams and doing it the legal way.
Evidently, Oscar had a brother who was the very cool type and was content on just putting up a show, or a front as living a successful life. We all know the type. A person that was living beyond his means. Blacks of his day called this way of living “the good life.”
Oscar didn't like it and was very upset with his brother. He later wrote in his book and discussed the culture of doers who want to accomplish, and those who see themselves as victims of injustice and hopelessness, and do not want to step out and try to succeed, but instead like to dress up, act cool and pretend to be successful while living the city lifestyle in poverty.
Oscar understood that education doesn't belong only to white people, it's a gift for all humanity to better ourselves, and honestly the best-proven way. Chinese, Japanese, Middle-Eastern and all other non-white nations understand this and have prospered by education. It's one of humanities treasure to learn.
But many blacks associated education with white and stayed far away from it, to continue with their cool lifestyle. A foolish mistake, and just what racist whites want you to believe.
Early Europeans completely dominated the Africans because they were better educated. They had guns we had spears, you do the math. In Africa our ancestors didn't value education, but traditions and silly ones at that. But that didn't save them. Education would have, though.
So without a doubt, it is entirely wrong to associate teaching and learning to white people. Many of us would look down upon another black who tried to better himself through education by saying they were trying to act white, and it wasn't cool. Racist whites laughed at us for believing this way because they knew we would always be behind.
After the 1960s, when our full Civil Rights were finally restored, many blacks chose to live the more standard American way by attending school to learn. But many also wanted to remain trapped in time with the old AAVE living in what they still perceived as defiance to the white American way of doing things. But were they only hurting themselves?
Later in time, being cool had become so prevalent in the black community it confused many kids, because they didn't quite understand if they were going to hang out with the cool kids or the so-called boring kids who liked to read and learn. At an early age, they are at a critical crossroad. Taking the cool route may seem easier, and a lot of fun, but would be a devastating mistake.
After the Civil Rights era we now have the opportunity to attend school and achieve as much as we can, but being cool has snatched many of the black kids and locked them into a culture hating education and in the process ruining their young lives.
Many entertainment figures reap much money from this cool culture by portraying cool as, well cool. They tell impressionable ones what's cool to hear, talk about, wear, eat, etc. and at the same time padding their cool humongous bank accounts.
These even get on television and flaunt their riches in a youngster's face never explicitly teaching on how they might be as successful, without being dishonest, stealing or selling drugs. Education is not cool for them to preach.
One thing is for sure, being cool can be a lot of fun and there's no denying that. Everybody wants to be liked, and it seems like cool people are respected and admired the most, from the clothes they wear to the type of songs they listen to the way they talk, the effortless way they seem to accomplish every task is amazing.
They possess incredible confidence. But truthfully everything they've accomplished wouldn't have been possible without the sacrifices of our wonderful ancestors. So don't you agree we owe a particular moral responsibility to them?
Kids should remember cool is not the real deal, It's a game we can't get caught up in. Our ancestors endured so much so we could achieve. We should never forget that. That's what this site was created. Browse through its pages, and you're going to read stories of amazing blacks.
They made it possible for us, and we're sure they would advise us to achieve through education first and foremost and save the cool for the weekends, and I ain't Shuckin and Jivin!
By White House (Pete Souza) / Maison Blanche (Pete Souza) (The Official White House Photostream) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Senate Office of Richard Lugar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Dang it! We're so Tired of all the Hate|
We can't wait to leave this wicked South,
and make the big bucks in the North!
Will our white American brothers love us there?
What type of employment awaits the Negro in the 1900s?
FSA photo of cropper family chopping the weeds
from cotton near White Plains, in Georgia Postmarked 1912
90% of Negroes still lived in the South up until the late 1910s.
King Cotton was still a big source of income for blacks. These workers were hired as temporary help. Many were tenant farmers, renting a piece of land and some of their tools and supplies, and paying the rent at the end of the growing season with a portion of their harvest. White and black farm laborers were paid comparable wages, and rental rates. Blacks didn't exclusively work in the cotton fields, for example some blacks worked in the Turpentine industry.
"Dipping and scraping pine trees. Turpentine industry in Florida." Postmarked 1912
Whites were much more likely to own land as opposed to blacks. Black children were unlikely to be in school because they helped the parents in the fields to support the family and also because of a lack of good quality schools. Funds that were intended for black schools went to white schools instead in the form of raising teacher salaries and per-pupil funding while reducing class size. Black schools suffered at this expense. Separate but Equal was a big lie, because it was anything but equal.
The government didn't have a special watchdog organization to enforce these racist laws, and the requirement of equality was not enforced. Black children never really had a fair chance.
Boll weevil ruins Cotton Crops in the 1920s
Of course hindsight is 20-20. But wouldn't it have been nice if during slavery someone would have thought to travel to Mexico and bring back the Cotton boll weevil to transplant them into Southern cotton crops?
Cotton boll weevil |
Where were you when we really
needed you, pre-1863?
A little integration of the boll weevil and Mr. King Cotton would have been a good thing for the Negro. We wonder what kind of effect that would have had on chattel slavery?
Well what the heck is a boll weevil?
The boll weevil is a beetle which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south.
Southern blacks were tied to the cotton fields in the early 1900s, but after 1914, many were fed up and wanted to try something new and different. By then they were open for a change because of restrictive Jim Crow laws and the boll weevil destroyed many crops, putting them out of work. They decided to take the plunge, a new and exciting life for them. Their move was called the Great Migration. News had spread to these poor black Southerners about better opportunities in the North, so many of them packed up their belongings and bid farewell to the South, never looking back.
During World War I, blacks were very much desired in the workplace. The United States had a quota for Colored soldiers to enlist for service. Blacks filled the quota very quickly, and many had to be turned back. With white men fighting in the war, this left openings in industry for blacks to fill. How did they do? Employers loved them and wanted more. They proved themselves to be excellent workers. This is probably one of the main reasons for so many riots when the white soldiers returned to America because blacks had taken their jobs. So by the early 1900s, we have proven ourselves to be excellent and courageous soldiers and dependable workers at home.
In other cases, some Negroes were recruited to travel North by agents of the businesses who would pay their fare. In some cases, these poor blacks were tricked into traveling a great distance for jobs only to discover they would be hired as strikebreakers, which was a very dangerous undertaking. Money was better for the Negro in the North, but in many cases, racism persisted with many riots happening. Many unions in the North had explicit rules barring membership by black workers.
Blacks had various successes at different job locations, for example when the auto industry took off, Ford Motor Co. hired many blacks to work in its automobile plant, but other auto plants often excluded them. Jobs were not a certainty for the Negro; he had to stay alerted and knock on many doors. But blacks were making a little advancement, by 1940 there were more than 200,000 African Americans in the CIO, many of them officers of union locals.
A. Philip Randolph|
When the war broke out a very special man by the name of A. Philip Randolph petitioned President Roosevelt for jobs in the Defense plants which previously had been reserved for whites. Randolph had a special card up his sleeve in the form of 100,000 peaceful marchers on Washington to protest if Roosevelt declined.
Roosevelt half-heartedly gave in and created a new program for blacks called the Fair Employment Practice Committee which was designed to monitor the hiring practices of companies. The Committee did accomplish many blacks being hired into the Defense departments at very nice wages but closed down later because of a lack of funding from the U.S. Government.
After World War II, The G.I. Bill which was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business, cash payments of tuition and living expenses to attend university, high school or vocational education, as well as one year of unemployment compensation was a big boon for whites and was a major factor in the creation of the white American middle class.
But sadly because of racial inequality, many of the benefits of the G.I. bill were not granted to black soldiers. This is because "at the very moment when a wide array of public policies was providing most white Americans with valuable tools to advance their social welfare—insure their old age, get good jobs, acquire economic security, build assets, and gain middle-class status—most black Americans were left behind or left out." It seems like we can get off the ground with these people, but we never give up. Also the black middle class failed to keep pace with the white middle class because blacks had fewer opportunities to earn college degrees.
In time, it became critical to have a college degree, for better pay wages which many whites were now working toward with the help of the G.I. Bill, but blacks were left behind in dying trades or just making it the best way they could because of racial discrimination and National leaders doing absolutely nothing to help.
Once they returned home after the war, blacks faced not only discrimination but also poverty, which confronted most blacks during the 1940s and 1950s and represented another barrier to harnessing the benefits of the G.I. Bill, as poverty made seeking an education problematic to while labor and income were needed at home. Banks and mortgage agencies routinely refused loans to blacks, making the G.I. Bill even less effective for blacks.
In addition to the other obstacles, gaining admission to universities was no easy task for blacks on the G.I. Bill. Most universities had segregationist principles underlying their admissions policies, utilizing either official or unofficial quotas. Those blacks that were prepared for college level work and gained access to predominantly white universities still experienced racism on campus.
During the 70s and 80s, the number of employed blacks increased. The civil rights movement played a huge role in this development. There were heavy gains in blue-collar jobs, such as steel, automobile production, electrical and non-electrical machinery, appliances, food and tobacco manufacturing, and textiles, and also white-collar occupations, where the four major subcategories-professional and technical, managerial and administrative, sales, and clerical increased very sharply.
The black labor force by the late 1990s, approximately sixty percent of these were white-collar sales and clerical personnel; many in this group were non-union workers with limited benefits and wages. However, another twenty percent of the black labor force, nearly three million workers, was classified as professional and technical employees and administrators. The percentage of the black labor force in the blue-collar field declined.
So what type of work did blacks do in the 1900s?
There were black doctors, dentist, newspaper editors, plumbers, mailman, teachers, singers, scientist, athletes, Pullman porters, laborers, politicians, judges, lawyers, mill workers, welders, domestic help, authors, factory workers, customer service, business owners, policemen, firemen, and every other profession you could think of. Sadly, their numbers and presence weren't as high as white Americans because of entrenched discrimination against the black race. It's in the history books, read it for yourself.
Blacks have historically had a harder time than other races being employed in America, ever since emancipation, and for the most part it has to do with racism. We're not fooled into believing any different. But we don't let this stop us and continue to push on. Our amazing journey has had many barriers and roadbloocks every step of the way.
The Fair Employment Practice Committee of the 40s and the Civil Rights movement helped a bit, but after slavery and the following Jim Crow years, racism had become deeply entrenched in the American workforce. It's not out in the open as it was during Jim Crow days but today more subtle and hidden, but just as hurtful, degrading and discouraging. But to our credit, blacks seem always to find a way. Truly remarkable American people, and if it were possible, would make our battered ancestors who sailed deep seas, shout for joy in their graves.
African Americans in the Twentieth Century
African Americans and the G.I. Bill
Blacks in the 1970's
Social and Economic Issues of the 1980s and 1990s
What The Negro Achieved in Industry
United States Census for African Americans
in the 1950s
Beautiful black family in the 50s
|Our Community in 1956 |
Newsworthy Events in the Black Community:
- January 30, 1956 - Martin Luther King Jr. house is bombed
- August 30, 1956 - An angry White mob prevents the enrollment of black students at Mansfield High School, Texas.
- 1956 - The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was a state agency directed by the governor of Mississippi, operated from 1956 to 1977. The commission had the stated objective to " protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi and her sister states" from "federal encroachment." During its existence, it profiled over more than 87,000 names of people associated with the civil rights movement (which it opposed) and was complicit in the murders of three civil rights workers.
Analysis: These organizations like The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission is what the NAACP was complaining about to the United Nations in 1947 in regards to genocide. Their goal was to collect names and murder people. They didn't try to hide that fact.
- 1950s Happenings in America - Car Hops at burger establishments where waitresses roller-skate to your vehicle and take your order. 3D Movies which had been around since the 1920s was making a comeback, competing against the television. Everybody loved the Blackjack Chewing Gum which had a licorice flavor. Frisbee throwing was becoming a serious art form, the tricks some could do with a frisbee were amazing. Hula Hoop was a regular in everyone's home, the inventors put sand or rocks inside the hoop to make noise while in use. Pez candy was a favorite for kids. Men of all races wore sideburns which was facial hair that grew down about an inch below the ears.
- The United States Population is 150,697,361 with a total of 15,044,937 being African Americans. Negroes are having more babies, and more than likely it was because of the Great Migration and jobs opening up in the North with the war effort.
#100 - By Jerry Crawford (jcrawford3505) (originally posted to Flickr as Sinbad) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
#101 - By Neurofibromatosis - Reggie Bibbs (originally posted to Flickr as Sugar Ray Leonard) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Operation Prime Time (ebay.com, front of photo, back of photo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Taken by the US Library Of Congress, 1956 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Keye Luke (www.widescreenmuseum.com) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By The original uploader was Smile Lee at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
#109 - Public Domain image - By Friedman-Abeles, New York, photographer. (eBay item photo frontphoto back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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