The popular, multi-decade American Bandstand showed white and black teens listening and enjoying music together during a time when it was socially frowned upon. Professor Matthew Delmont set out to write a book about the role the show played in ending segregation. While doing the research for his book Delmont discovered some ugly truths. The Wichita Eagle reports:
PHILADELPHIA – Professor Matthew Delmont set out to write about how the ‘50s dance show “American Bandstand” was an integrated bastion of pop culture, where Philadelphia’s black and white teens mixed and mingled on television even though the rest of the country was bitterly divided by race.
Then he discovered his entire premise was dead-wrong.
In the resulting book, “The Nicest Kids in Town,” this assistant professor of American studies at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., details how “American Bandstand” kept African-American teens off the show, despite host Dick Clark’s later claims to the contrary.
Delmont initially became interested in “American Bandstand” because his mom was a huge fan. When he was in graduate school, Delmont wanted to write a book about how segregation differed in the North from the South, where tactics were more overt.
Indeed, there was nothing overt about racism on “Bandstand.” The show didn’t hang a shingle outside of its 46th and Market studio barring African-Americans from the premises. “What they did was use what could only be described as underhanded tactics,” Delmont said in a phone interview last week. “They would have a dress code and black teens would just so happen not have the right clothes on.”
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