Blast From The Past:
OUR HAMITE AWARD WINNER 1959:
Billie Holiday was one of the greatest African American jazz singers of all times. She had a unique delivery in her music style. Billie had a rough childhood which played a huge part in the life choices she made. Billie was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Sadie Fagan and Clarence Holiday.
Her dad was an aspiring musician who left his family to fend for themselves to pursue his dreams. Billie dropped out of school at age 11. Billie's mother would take transportation jobs to support the family but eventually became involved with prostitution. At age thirteen, Billie along with her mother ended up working as prostitutes in the brothels of Harlem.
They were soon raided by the police and arrested. Billie wanted more than a life of prostitution and decided to try her hand at music, and would visit different clubs along with fellow musician friends to sing. It wasn't long before everyone was taking notice of this incredible talent and her new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.
In time she was sharing company with the big shots of the industry, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong just to name a few. Later Billie became involved with hard drugs for which she was arrested.
Her mother had opened a restaurant called Mom Holiday's with money Billie had loaned her, and this one particular time Billie was short on cash and visited the restaurant to asked her mother for some, and she flat out refused to give her one red penny. The two argued and Holiday shouted angrily: "God blessed the child that's got his own," and stormed out. She wrote a song based on the line "God Bless, the Child" and added music, and it became Holiday's most famous and covered record.
There are many more fascinating (true) stories about this great woman and we invite you to read more.
But why choose a former prostitute, drop-out, drug addict to be the 1959 Hamite Award winner some people may ask? One reason is because 1959 is the year she sadly passed away and the other is because she was a lost daughter of ours, and we don't cast stones.
There are many Billie Holidays in our communities today, they need love and encouragement to do the right thing, not condemnation, because they know they're doing wrong. Billie died much too young; she was 44 years old, and her many talents wasted for sure. So we feel that her life could be a beautiful testament to other young people about making wise life choices in their daily situations.
Billie Holiday and her dog Mister, backstage dressing room
Billie Holiday, Downbeat, New York.
|How were blacks feeling in 1959?
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 Negro 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 atcha!
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 wonderful history!!!
Black Beaches in Maryland
During the 50's and early 60's, Anne Arundel County was still segregated and the beaches for Negroes were Carr's Beach and Sparrow's Beach in Annapolis, and the beach communities of Highland Beach, Arundel-On-The-Bay and Columbia Beach in the county. Carr's Beach was the most famous of the beaches and was affectionately called "The Beach". During the week "The Beach" was a place for day camp, church picnics, etc. But on the week-ends especially Sunday afternoons, Carr's Beach had the unique distinction of being a major stop on the "Chitlin Circuit".
Saturday nights grown-ups would go to the beach and see stars such as Ray Charles, Bill Doggett, Dinah Washington, Author Prysock, etc. Sunday afternoons was family fun. Thousands of people from as far away as Philly would come to the beach to swim and picnic. But at three o'clock it was show time and people would pack into the pavilion to see and dance to the Major R&B stars of the day. Stars such as Little Richard, James Brown, Lloyd Price, Etta James, The Shirelles, The Coasters, The Drifters. You name 'em, they played Carr's Beach.
Are you kidding me? Ya'll had a party going on!!!! AWESOME
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 1959:
- May 22, 1959 - Benjamin O Davis Jr becomes the first African American major general in US Air Force.
- Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie were the first African-American Grammy Award winners.
- Louis Lomax was the first African-American television journalist.
- The Platters were the first African-American group to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Oscar Robertson was the first African-American to win a major national player of the year award in college basketball.
| Sports in 1959 |
- May 7, 1959 - Roy Campanella Night draw the largest baseball crowd 93,103 in Los Angeles.
- May 25, 1959 - The United States Supreme Court rules Louisiana prohibiting black-white boxing is unconstitutional.
- June 11, 1959 - Charlie Sifford becomes the first African American to play in a US Golf Open.
- June 26, 1959 - Ingemar Johansson knockouts Floyd Patterson in 3 rounds for the heavyweight boxing title.
- June 27, 1959 - Players vote Henry Aaron unanimously for the All-Star Game.
- July 18, 1959 - African American William 'Bill' Wright is the first black person to win a major golf tournament
- July 21, 1959 - The Boston Red Sox are last team to use a black player (Pumpsie Green)
- August 2, 1959 - San Francisco Giants first baseman Willie McCovey hits the first of his 521 homeruns.
- August 22, 1959 - Cincinnati Red's Frank Robinson hits 3 consecutive homeruns.
- November 1, 1959 - Jim Brown scores a whopping 5 touchdowns in Cleveland Browns 38-31 win over Baltimore.
- November 4, 1959 - Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks wins his second consecutive NL MVP.
- Willie Mays won the National League Gold Glove Awards.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
| Political Scene in 1959 |
- 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 fully integrate, 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 any way we can get it. Many positive changes happened for the Negro 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.
- January 1, 1959 - Fidel Castro was a Cuban revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. Analysis: Fidel was a man who refused to live his life under an oppressive regime and fought the system to dramatic victory. He was prepared to die for his beliefs, a true patriot. Many portray him badly, but after studying his life I don't agree, in fact, I think he was made a quote that history would judge him in a positive light. Fidel, his brother Raul and another amazing individual who went by the name Che Guevara who was from Argentina joined the Cuban fight and tricked the Cuban government into believing the rebels were a powerful force and gave up control. They did this while hiding in the jungle and broadcasting radio propaganda. Of course, as with all governments, it slowly fell apart with everybody disagreeing how things should be done. Fidel would end up being an oppressor himself in the end by taking out all opposition to his regime. He had a vision of socialism and even though the entire world around him were changing he refused to do so and leading his country to ruin. Many Cubans fled to the United States in rickety boats where many died. Castro didn't trust the United States and for good reason. On numerous occasions Kennedy attempted to assassinate him. In the beginning, the U.S. had once helped Cuba defeat the Spanish and instead of going back home, stayed and opened American businesses and imposed their will on the Cuban people and after this, it was all downhill for Cuban and American cooperation. Soon after Castro gained power, he took the Americans businesses and gave the proceeds to the Cuban poor. Castro only wanted a better life for his people, especially the poor and fought for that right, similar to the rebels of the American Revoulunary War, there was absolutely no difference. But for the most part Castro was a hero, but in other ways, that old saying became true for him. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
"Colored Waiting Room" sign from
segregationist era United States
photo #100 -year-1878
| Race in 1959 |
- April 26, 1959 - Mack Charles Parker was accused of raping a pregnant white woman in northern Pearl River County, Mississippi. Analysis: Three days before he was to stand trial, he was kidnapped from his jail cell in the Pearl River County Courthouse by a mob, beaten and shot. His body was found in the Pearl River, 20 miles west of Poplarville, ten days later. Following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the men who killed him were released. Despite confessions, nobody was indicted for the killing. Historian Howard Smead called the killing the "last classic lynching in America." Due process of law was once again absent in this case. If allowed to have a fair trial with a jury of his peers and found guilty the black community would have supported that, but we were never given that option to exercise. One good thing is we notice fewer lynchings in recent years. It's also worth noting that there is a definite change in the way the U.S. government are looking at these kinds of cases. In the past, the government might fake an attempt to seek justice for these black victims, but in this case, the FBI were serious about getting to the bottom of this matter. There were about 60 agents on the case. They were able to come up with some valuable information against some of the lynchers, but the prosecutor and the judge in the case were KKK and would not cooperate. The white woman who also claimed to be raped by Parker was rumored to be involved in an affair with a white man and once suspected of wrongdoing by her husband claimed she had been violated by Parker. The alleged rape victim fainted upon learning of Parker's kidnapping from the jail, and stated that he deserved a trial. There was only 8-10 involved in the lynching. Usually, there were hundreds if not thousands of frenzied white lynchers in times past. The way the FBI handled this case helped to teach other would-be future murderers that their freedom from punishment was coming to an end. America is finally changing, and it's coming from the top down.
|| sLANG tALK in 1959 |
- 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.
Photo of a scene from the play A Raisin in the Sun. From left-Claudia McNeil as Lena Younger,
Sidney Poitier as Walter Younger and Diana Sands as Beneatha Younger.
Movies in America
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
Jack Benny's radio shows cast
| Theater / Television / Movies in 1959 |
- Porgy and Bess - Dorothy Dandridge (role as Bess)
- After touring to positive reviews, the play "A Raisin in the Sun" premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959. The play transferred to the Belasco Theatre on October 19, 1959 and closed on June 25, 1960 after 530 total performances.
- 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?
- Imitation of Life is a 1959 American romantic drama film directed by Douglas Sirk. Juanita Moore played the mother, Annie Johnson, and if her performance didn't make you cry, nothing would. Moore received an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Gospel music star Mahalia Jackson also appears as a church choir soloist. This film is a classic and should be in everyones library. Trivia: When the two versions of Imitation of Life were released together on DVD, the earlier film was released in 1934, one of the bonus features was a new interview with Juanita Moore.
| Famous Birthdays in 1959 |
- April 10, 1959 - Babyface is an American R&B musician, singer.
- August 14, 1959 - Magic Johnson is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association.
- December 20, 1959 - Kelvin Trent Tucker is a retired American professional basketball player.
| Famous Deaths in 1959 |
- February 1, 1959 - Madame Sul-Te-Wan was an African American stage, film and television actress. The daughter of freed slaves, she began her career in entertainment touring the east coast with various theatrical companies and moved to California to become a member of the fledgling film community. She became known as a character actress, appeared in high profile films.
- May 1959 - Thelma Johnson Streat was an African American artist, dancer, and educator, who gained prominence in the 1940s for her art, performance and work to foster inter-cultural understanding and appreciation.
- July 17, 1959 - Billie Holiday was one of the greatest if not the greatest American jazz singers of all times.
- 1959 - William Augustus Hinton was an American bacteriologist, pathologist and educator. He was the first black professor in the history of Harvard University.
| Famous Weddings in 1959 |
- March 1959 - Joe Louis married Martha Jefferson.
- June 22, 1959 - Dorothy Dandridge married Jack Denison.
- September 4, 1959 - Sarah Vaughan met and married a man of uncertain background, Clyde "C.B." Atkins on this date.
- 1959 - Smokey Robinson married fellow Miracles member Claudette Rogers.
| Famous Divorces in 1959 |
- 1959 - Ike Turner and Lorraine Taylor Turner were divorced.
- 1959 - Sarah Vaughan and George Treadwell were divorced.
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
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 1959 |
- 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 don now for more years than I know. They played it like that in the shanties and 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, Id 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)
The Cookies were an American R&B girl group in the 1950s to 1960s.
Members of the original lineup would later become the Raelettes,
the backing vocalists for Ray Charles.
Picture of a 45 rpm record from the mid-1950s
Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timme Rosenkrantz, Downbeat, New York, N.Y.
| Music in 1959 |
Billboard Top Soul Hits:
Popular Soul Dances:
- February 2, 1959 "Try Me" James Brown
- February 9, 1959 "Stagger Lee" Lloyd Price
- March 9, 1959 "It's Just a Matter of Time" Brook Benton
- March 11, 1959 "Kansas City" Wilbert Harrison
- June 29, 1959 "Personality" Lloyd Price
- July 27, 1959 "There Goes My Baby" The Drifters
- August 3, 1959 "What'd I Say" (Part 1) Ray Charles
- August 10, 1959 "Thank You Pretty Baby" Brook Benton
- September 7, 1959 "I'm Gonna Get Married" Lloyd Price
- September 21, 1959 "I Want to Walk You Home" Fats Domino
- October 5, 1959 "Poison Ivy" The Coasters
- October 12, 1959 "Sea of Love" Phil Phillips
- October 19, 1959 "You Better Know It" Jackie Wilson
- November 16, 1959 "So Many Ways" Brook Benton
- November 23, 1959 "Don't You Know?" Della Reese
- December 7, 1959 "The Clouds" The Spacemen
Musical Happenings in 1959:
- The Bop
- The Stroll
- The Hand Jive
- The Cha Cha
- The Twist
- Bosa Nova
- The record players we used:
From mid 1950s through the 1960s, folks in the United States would typically have these features on their record player, a 3 or 4 speed player (78, 45, 331/3, and sometimes 162/3 rpm); with changer, a tall spindle that would hold several records and automatically drop a new record on top of the previous one when it had finished playing, a combination cartridge with both 78 and microgroove styli and a way to flip between the two; and some kind of adapter for playing the 45s with their larger center hole.
- 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 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 individual instruments since instruments were little used: the bass singing "bomb-bomb-bomb", a guitar rendered as "shang-a-lang" and brass riffs as "dooooo -wop-wop".
- Gospel concerts becoming popular:
- Following the Second World War, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate. In 1950, Mahalia Jackson became the first gospel singer to perform at Carnegie Hall when Joe Bostic produced the Negro Gospel and Religious Music Festival. He repeated it the next year with an expanded list of performing artists, and in 1959 moved to Madison Square Garden.
- Miles Davis' "So What" from Kind of Blue reflects a major innovation. This is the beginning of modal jazz.
- Berry Gordy forms Motown Records, the first African American-owned label to reach great success in the American pop market. One of the other major labels of soul will be Stax Records, also founded this year, by Jim Stewart in Memphis.
- Bessie Griffin becomes the first gospel singer to perform in a cabaret.
- The Drifters are the first of some African American rhythm and blues combos to have hits using the Brazilian baion rhythm (cha cha) with "There Goes My Baby" and "Dance with Me."
- The jazz quartet of Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins and Charlie Haden release The Shape of Jazz to Come and Change of the Century, landmark recordings that help establish the field of free jazz.
Grammy winners in 1959:
The 1st Annual Grammy Awards were held on May 4, 1959. They recognized musical accomplishments by performers for the year 1958.
Best Jazz Performance, Individual
- Ella Fitzgerald for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook
Best Jazz Performance, Group
- Count Basie for Basie
Best Vocal Performance, Female (Pop)
- Ella Fitzgerald for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook
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 1959 |
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 protιgι 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.
Pullman porters, who were largely black, are widely credited with contributing to the development of the black middle class in America. Before the Civil War, sleeping cars were not in use. George Pullman came up with the brilliant idea of making rail travel a memorable event with servers to cater to whites every need.
During slavery, most whites didn't own slaves and this gave them an opportunity to experience that. Pullman became the number #1 employer of blacks in the country. He was a tight businessman though because the pay was lousy with the porters working over 400 hours a month. Porters also had to purchase their own clothing and accessories. They received most of their income by tips.
But the job was steady work and that meant alot for black families. Famous porters of old included, Thurgood Marshall, Oscar Micheaux, Malcolm X and the photojournalist Gordon Parks.
Will more blacks adopt the American standard?
Maybe it's time to send the old Negro standard to the black museum
In America's beginning, immigrants from Europe had the incredible opportunity to live a better life and perhaps become rich beyond their wildest dreams. This was a hope that had never existed for regular everyday people in the entire history of man.
In contrast, Africans were sold into slavery, mostly by their governments and forced to travel to America as slaves. For them, this was not a dream, but an atrocious nightmare. The opportunity didn't exist for the vast majority of blacks to make a better life for themselves.
Once in America, these Europeans would eventually band together to focus on a common enemy, the black-skinned negro. This banding together against the blacks made whites stronger, and blacks weaker.
Some of these whites were very vocal in their dislike for black people, calling them bad names such as savages, animals, wild beast, ignorant, etc., and others were indifferent, choosing to remain on the sidelines by remaining silent. But they were just as guilty for allowing democracy to be trampled.
Even though professing to be the most intelligent compassionate creatures on earth, they couldn't understand how their actions would undermine everything America was supposed to represent. They became terrible guardians of hope and justice in a new and civilized world.
After slavery was finally outlawed in America, it was replaced with another oppression just as worse in the form of Jim Crow laws. These laws regulated blacks to 2nd class citizenship. These laws made blacks feel like they were not a part of the American process, and made many feel worthless as human beings and lacking in self-confidence.
But after the 60s civil rights movement, blacks started to slowly come around and take what belonged to them regarding good jobs, moving to nicer neighborhoods, etc. But still faced a white power structure at the job and at home that failed to recognize them as real American brothers. Even though new Civil Rights laws were in place, blacks still faced an uphill battle every day, but now in the form of a silent hate, called covert racism.
It's a situation that still exist in America.
Especially before the sixties, blacks were excluded in all aspects of American living by whites. Thus the need to create a black way of doing things became necessary. Many blacks in those days took pride in being different from white America. We felt that if whites didn't want anything to do with us professionally or socially, we didn't want anything to do with them.
So, we spoke our language using jive talk and slang and created special handshakes when greeting one another. We designed our style of colorful clothes and fashioned our hair differently. We ate our style of soul food.
These were all great and original African-American inventions that we needed for our own identity and kept us with a measure of sanity in a racist and vile America.
These inventions were considered being hep/ hip by all, and if a black person didn't practice these Negro standards, they would be regarded as a sell-out or trying to act white.
Blacks were very smart to invent the Negro standard, so what's the problem?
The problem began after the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. It was now legal for blacks to achieve equality in America as much as our hearts desired. We now had the law on our side. Even though this was still not a guarantee to eliminate racism and exclusion, it would make our fight a little easier.
But sadly, many blacks were not prepared and attempted to bring the old Negro standard way of doing things into the American mainstream. There was an immediate culture clash. Whites didn't know anything about black Americans and became afraid and filled with even more hate towards them because now they had to share America equally.
Now with the law on our side, you would think that blacks would have run to the schools and colleges to educate themselves. But many were afraid of the white power structure because it was very intimidating.
But not to the black woman. She knew the only way to win this struggle was to fight fire with fire, by becoming better educated. She attended school and learned all she could, and quickly realized she was just as smart if not smarter than whites. She then went out to fight.
She was victorious and continues to be so today.
The black male didn't put up a good fight like the female because he was intimidated by the hate other races directed towards him and chose to live a life of running game and boy-like behavior to make his living. Also, the black man didn't want to abide by the America standard way of doing things because he still considered it an enemy.
The result was that many of our people got left behind by not successfully making the distinction between white people and the American standard. These are two different things, and that needs repeating. These are two separate things and are easily confused as being the same. White people don't own the American standard, and they don't control it. White people knew blacks get hung up on this stumbling block and discouraged us at every step.
There would be many blacks who gauged and jumped this obstacle, but far too many quit or didn't even try. The successful ones would go on to make a nice living and provide for their families and care less about racist whites and their hate for us, or the foolish blacks who would say bad things about them for acting white. To this very day, it remains a difficult thing for blacks to give up the old negro way of thinking.
For example, we are not acting white if we.......
- We live in America and are Americans. English is our nations official language. It's the American standard to speak proper English, and not only for white people. It's for yellow, brown, red and all Americans.
- America is a civilized country and at the moment the best in the world. Its citizens are courteous and considerate to one another. This is not a white thing. It's the American standard.
- The American standard teaches us to take care of our families and handle our business as responsible adults, which is not a white thing to practice, but an American thing to do.
- To attend school and shoot for the stars to better ourselves is not a white thing, it's expected of all Americans to keep the country smarter and stronger which once again goes to the American standard category, not white people category.
If we try to take our old way of thinking out in public or to the workplace, we surely will be met with problems. It won't work. Other races don't understand our old negro standard and will become annoyed or offended, just like we would if in a group of people and couldn't understand what they were doing or saying. This is why the old Negro standard and American standard cannot exist side by side.
Refusal to depart from the old Negro standard is one reason we still have black slums, living near poverty, low self-esteem and every other negative we can think. The Negro standard at one time served a necessary purpose but now holds us back as a race. It's time to put the Negro standard in a black museum. It's outdated.
Give up the swag?
But let's make one thing clear, it's not advocated giving up the music, fried chicken, chitterlings, corn bread and collard greens or even the swag that took years to perfect. There are a place and time for everything. No, that's not the point. The point is always to exercise common sense when dealing with other races and remain cognizant of the American standard.
There will still be plenty of hate to face us.
Yes, there will be, but it's better to have success and be hated than to be unsuccessful and hated. A word of caution though. There are many of our people who hate us also and would love if we still lived in the old Negro standard.
Do you believe that successful blacks have a moral obligation to help its people? Our ancestors thought so. They understood the path for success and continually stressed education and living within the American standard as the only way to achieve that.
Today, we don't have our ancestors to look up to for advice. But believe it or not, singers, entertainers, rappers and sports athletes have taken their place. Most blacks give these people the top priority and will follow their every word, frequently ignoring their education, and buying their product. The question becomes, are these people for their own needs or are they instructing the black community to embrace the American standard?
United States Census for African Americans
in the 1950s
Beautiful black family in the 50s
| Our Community in 1959 |
Newsworthy Events in the Black Community:
- January 3, 1959 - Alaska went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
- January 5, 1959 - Bozo the Clown live children's show debuts on television.
- March 18, 1959 - United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Hawaii statehood bill.
- May 22, 1959 - Benjamin O Davis Jr becomes the first African American major general in US Air Force.
- September 11, 1959 - Duke Ellington recieves the Springarn Medal for his achievements in music.
- September 11, 1959 - Congress passes a bill authorizing food stamps for the countries poor Americans
- One of the first successful white blueswomen, Barbara Dane, becomes the first white woman featured on the cover of Ebony magazine in 1959.
- 1950s Happenings in America - Car Hops at burger establishments where waitresses roller-skate to your car 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 everyones 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.
How did religion begin for the American Negro?
Well, it was an exciting journey for sure, but as usual, we have to go back into history for the likely answer. Before arriving in America as slaves, generally speaking, our ancestors practiced a religion which included fetishism.
What is fetishism you may ask?
Traditional Benin Voodoo Dance
Fetishism is a man-made object (such as the doll aound the lady's neck in the picture) that is thought to have power over others. Africans were extremely superstitious in their native land.
But once exposed to religious teachers in America, quickly left their superstitious past behind them, and would frown upon new arrivals of Africans who practiced fetishism in religion.
In Europe, the Roman Catholic Church had lost their grip on people with their questionable religious practices. There were many who thought the Church was wrong and formed a protest or a Protestant Reformation that resulted in the creation of tons of different religions with their doctrines and teachings claiming to be Christian.
A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems,
and world views
that relate humanity to an order of existence.
Episcopal, Jesuits, Methodists, Protestant, Anglican, Lutheranism, Calvinism, Presbyterianism, Wesleyanism were all against Roman Catholic teachings.
But there would be a new religion on the horizon for humanity that went by the name of science. The introduction of science was in many ways entirely different than Christianity because it taught man to believe and rely on himself and his creations, rather than on a Supreme Being he couldn't see.
Faith is something foreign and unbelievable to a scientist. Also, this new form of religion would give these believers complete moral authority to do as they wished without a guilty conscience or retribution from a Surpreme Being.
This is what made slavery right or moral in the eyes of so many whites because new science taught that whites were superior and blacks inferior. The theory of evolution is another example in clear teaching that the world exists because of a big bang instead of being created, and also man evolved from apes rather than being created.
Do you believe in Evolution? If so, evolution is your religion because mainstream religion and evolution just don't jive, it's either one or the other.
During slavery, most of the first black congregations and churches were founded by free blacks, but slaves learned about Christianity by attending services led by a white preacher or supervised by a white person. Slaveholders often held prayer meetings at their plantations. Methodist and Baptist were the preferred choices of slaves because of its message.
But after slavery blacks were still restricted in the white churches so what they did next is not a surprise. They began to form their churches free from white rulership and exclusion, but kept the doctrine and teachings, but of course with a more lively twist (singing and dancing). It's clear they still had African culture in their hearts. This would mark the beginning of a new American creation, the black church.
The following is a very brief history of religion in Black America:
William J. Seymour - photo#111-yr-2015
Charles Fox Parham an independent holiness evangelist who believed strongly in divine healing, was an important figure in the emergence of Pentecostalism as a distinct Christian movement. But it wasn't until one of his black students named William J. Seymour learned these teaching and took it back to California with him that the Pentecostal movement took off like wildfire.
Seymour's preaching sparked the famous three-year-long Azusa Street Revival in 1906. Worship at the racially integrated Azusa Mission featured an absence of any order of service. (whites would later dislike this) People preached and testified as moved by the Spirit, spoke and sung in tongues, and fell in the Spirit. Blacks whites and other races would attend these services. But there was a matter of Jim Crow to be kept in mind that made it illegal for blacks and whites to mix.
So whites broke away from Seymour and began their Pentecostal churches. It's a fact that the beginning of the widespread Pentecostal movement in the United States is considered to have started with one-eyed black preacher William J. Seymour's Azusa Street Revival.
The Church Of God in Christ (COGIC) -
Church Of God in Christ Baptism
The Church Of God in Christ was formed in 1897 by a group of disfellowshiped Baptists, most notably Charles Price Jones (18651949) and Charles Harrison Mason (18661961) and is a Pentecostal Christian denomination with a predominantly African-American membership. It ranks as the largest Pentecostal denomination and the fifth largest Christian denomination in the U.S. Evangelical Baptist, and Methodist preachers traveled throughout the South in the Great Awakening of the late 18th century and appealed directly to slaves, and a few thousand slaves converted. Early COGIC leaders were very much attracted by the Pentecostal message and would break from the Baptist for this reason.
A.M.E. Church -
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the A.M.E. Church, is a predominantly African-American Methodist denomination based in the US. It is the oldest independent Protestant denomination founded by blacks in the world. It was founded by the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1816 from several black Methodist congregations in the mid-Atlantic area that wanted independence from white Methodists.
Baptists are individuals who comprise a group of denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers (believer's baptism, as opposed to infant baptism) and that it must be done by complete immersion (as opposed to affusion or sprinkling). Other tenets of Baptist churches include soul competency (liberty), salvation through faith alone, Scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice, and the autonomy of the local congregation. Baptists recognize two ministerial offices, pastors, and deacons. Baptist churches are widely considered to be Protestant churches, though some Baptists disavow this identity.
An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim. Jews felt like they were chosen people who were promised a land filled with milk and honey, a holy land. This promise was made to Abraham and his seed. Abraham's wife Sarah had trouble conceiving children so to keep the promise alive and in the family she chose Hagar who was an Egyptian handmaid to have sexual relations with Abraham to bear a son, which is what they did. This son's name was Ishmael.
But something happened later that would throw things into a tizzy. At a very old age Sarah was now able to have kids and bore a son named Isaac.
Now here's the problem. Does the promise belong to Sarah's son or Hagar's son? Sarah felt it belonged to her bloodline, so she sent Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness for them to die. But guess what? They didn't die. Muhammad who was the final prophet sent by God as identified in the Quran was born within Ishmael's seed line.
So even to this day these two groups don't care for each other.
This religion by far has proven to be the most destructive for humankind. Its users have created a world of me, me, me, by magnifying themselves, sincerely believing they are all of that and a bag of chips. Also the belief that spirited competition is healthy and useful. Win at all cost! The survival of the fittest theory. Many genocides were accomplished in the name of science. It teaches us that man originates from apes, (many blacks lost their life because of this false teaching) the earth was created from nothing and in essence humans are their gods. The bad far outweighs the good with the practice of science. Just look around.
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