's American Bandstand
television program is iconic, but was it really an early promoter of racial integration? The question is one extensively delved into by Scripps College
American Studies Professor Matt Delmont
in his new book The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock 'n' Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950's Philadelphia
. Released just last Friday, as Black History Month
comes to a close, the research compiled by the author reveals a hidden history of racial segregation on the United States' first television program centered on the teenage population.
Sorting through interviews, newspaper articles, census data, countless photographs and more, Delmont concludes that the dance show was in fact actually a step behind and out of rhythm with the later claims of Clark as host. UC Santa Cruz Professor Herman Gray says of the book, "The Nicest Kids in Town
shows how the nexus of sound, place,
race, and space operated together to create and reinforce a myth of
national memory and belonging. Just as importantly, this compelling
cultural history demonstrates the importance of the youth market as a
theater of struggle where brave young men and women--outraged by the
discrimination and racism they faced for the simple act of enjoying
music--refused to have their bodies, tastes, or desires policed."
spoke with Professor Delmont about his provocative new book and brings you this first of two installments of the interview. (Read part two of the interview here.)More »