Read The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Lost African-American Renaissance by R.J. Smith Online

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This book, like a major archaeological dig, unearths a littleknown, now vanished civilization and changes how we understand history. In the 1940s, when FDR opened up the defense industry to black workers, it inspired a massive wave of black migration to a small area of Los Angeles along Central Avenue--and cultural ferment in the arts, culture, and politics. In a neighborhThis book, like a major archaeological dig, unearths a littleknown, now vanished civilization and changes how we understand history. In the 1940s, when FDR opened up the defense industry to black workers, it inspired a massive wave of black migration to a small area of Los Angeles along Central Avenue--and cultural ferment in the arts, culture, and politics. In a neighborhood densely packed with black musicians, independent labels and after hours spots, rhythm and blues was spawned. Chester Himes fathered the black detective novel and a noir sensibility. Black comics took off minstrel blackface for the first time and addressed audiences directly with socially-tinged humor. And, Smith suggests, the civil rights movement helped get its start, as the strategy of building mass movements and giving power to ghetto dwellers gained favor in opposition to the top-down strategies of the NAACP and the Urban League. Harlem's Renaissance had been driven by the intellectual elite. In L.A., a new sense of black identity arose from street level. But when the moment was over, many hopes and lives were swept away with it. Based on original research and interviews, told through an engaging narrative, this book shows convincingly that much that we take for granted today, from hip hop and slang to modern-day street fashion, all flowed from the 1940s scene along the Great Black Way....

Title : The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Lost African-American Renaissance
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781586482954
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Lost African-American Renaissance Reviews

  • Ben
    2019-02-11 07:00

    I was tempted to give this four stars because I wanted it to go on for at least another hundred pages. I wanted more about what movies the journalist and editor John Kinoch went to see when he disappeared for days at a time into area theatres. I wanted to know what the hell Slim Galliard was doing between sets, I wanted more about Ellington vocalist Ivie Anderson. Hey, I'm greedy.Smith did a great job and gives maximum respect to the creative ferment that his subject lived and thrived in the middle of, without for a minute missing the big picture of the white supremacist bullshit the community was up against.

  • John
    2019-02-19 03:56

    A very disjointed book about Black LA in the early 20th century. The book looks at how the influx of southern blacks to Los Angeles help change the culture in the years leading up to World War II. The focus is all over the map: from labor strikes and civil rights struggles to jam sessions, blackface comedians, and gay bars. There isn't a clear focus other than to present vignettes of life along Central Avenue in LA. The book really could have used another round of editing as some of the sentences seemed rough and the general flow of the book was inconsistent. I wanted more from the book as most of the topics reflect modern times.

  • Jstg00d
    2019-02-07 09:57

    This book was a fantastic non-fiction about Los Angeles. The author does a great job of telling the story of historically black Los Angeles Central Avenue.The one criticism is that the book became primarily about the musical talents that arose along the avenue...but perhaps I was just more interested in the lives than the music, so my own prejudice.

  • Peter Campbell
    2019-02-11 04:41

    This is an excellent book that paints a vivid picture of life of African Americans in 1940's. From a personal perspective, I would like to have seen more attention given over to the music of the period but this didn't prevent my enjoying the book as a whole.

  • Kieran
    2019-01-25 06:36

    Interesting subject, presented fairly well. Maybe a little too much focus on the jam session phenomenon in the later chapters. The earlier chapter cover World War II, the zoot suit riots, strikes, and other political and race-relation material that had a lot more pull for me personally.

  • Eric
    2019-02-07 06:53

    Smith digs up the history of Central Ave and unearths little pockets of LA history long ignored or forgotten. A great book to bring to the corridor, Little Tokyo and former Bronzeville and read while you look at how the area's changed, and how it remains the same.

  • Mary Jo
    2019-02-03 02:59

    what an interesting read! a part of american history I knew nothing about. the author writes in a very approachable way.

  • RobertBaird
    2019-02-05 08:36

    A totally engrossing collection of biographical sketches on key figures during the heydays of Central Avenue. Essential reading for the recreational Los Angeles historian.

  • Mary
    2019-02-21 08:44

    My only complaint is that this book tells the history from the point-of-view of men. Some women were interviewed but none are featured. However, I'm sure that women existed and operated in the 1940s!

  • Bill
    2019-01-31 03:50

    I've been mildly curious about this period in LA's history since reading Chester Himes's If He Hollers. I'm glad I picked this book up. I learned a lot.