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Rethinking American Music$
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Tara Browner and Thomas L. Riis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042324

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042324.001.0001

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The “Most Distinctive and Biggest Benefit that Broadway Has Ever Known”

The “Most Distinctive and Biggest Benefit that Broadway Has Ever Known”

Producing, Performing, and Applauding across the Color Line in the Twilight of the Jazz Age

(p.221) 10 The “Most Distinctive and Biggest Benefit that Broadway Has Ever Known”
Rethinking American Music

Todd Decker

University of Illinois Press

Decker examines how the “color line” in the twentieth century crucially impacted Broadway up to the onset of the Great Depression. He finds a “surprising group portrait” of participants--including such figures as Walter White, an early African American leader of the NAACP, and Carl Van Vechten, a popular white novelist and cultural gadfly--who “together [meet] at a site where questions of musical style, race relations, and cultural and social history intersect in provocative ways” and offers a case study of how popular entertainment across the racial spectrum could work to enhance interracial understanding in the penumbral days of the Jazz Age.

Keywords:   color line, Jazz Age, Broadway musicals, social history, interracial mixing, Carl Van Vechten, Walter White

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