Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

Arts & Culture

In trying to appeal to both college-educated and working-class readers, black newspapers captured a wide spectrum of news about theater, music, film, dance, and popular culture. As a result, arts and culture coverage in the black press troubles several binaries, such as high culture/popular culture, international/local, and sacred/secular. Readers found stories about Edna Thomas playing Lady Macbeth and saw ads for “Jocko” Henderson’s rock ’n’ roll radio show; they learned about Antonin Dvorak’s influence on African-American music and about drag balls in Harlem; and they read about James Cleveland and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, two dynamic performers who explored new musical possibilities by bridging black church traditions and secular popular music. The wealth of arts and culture news in the black press encourages scholars and students to embrace a wide-angle view of the diversity of black cultural productions.

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