The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock 'n' Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia

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Overview


American Bandstand, one of the most popular television shows ever, broadcast from Philadelphia in the late fifties, a time when that city had become a battleground for civil rights. Counter to host Dick Clark’s claims that he integrated American Bandstand, this book reveals how the first national television program directed at teens discriminated against black youth during its early years and how black teens and civil rights advocates protested this discrimination. Matthew F. Delmont brings together major themes in American history—civil rights, rock and roll, television, and the emergence of a youth culture—as he tells how white families around American Bandstand’s studio mobilized to maintain all-white neighborhoods and how local school officials reinforced segregation long after Brown vs. Board of Education. The Nicest Kids in Town powerfully illustrates how national issues and history have their roots in local situations, and how nostalgic representations of the past, like the musical film Hairspray, based on the American Bandstand era, can work as impediments to progress in the present.
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Editorial Reviews

Orange County Register

“Reveals a hidden history of racial segregation on the United States' first television program centered on the teenage population. . . . Provocative.”
History News Network

“Well-researched, tightly-written. . . . Impressively bright, clear, and comprehensive.”
Choice

“Excellent. . . . Offers a valuable understanding of the . . . melding of African Americans into the national youth culture.”
Cbq Communication Booknotes Qtly

“The study illustrates how . . . nostalgic representations of the past . . . can work as impediments to progress in the present.”
Jrnl Of The Society For American Music (Jsam) - Gayle Wald

“The Nicest Kids in Town counters the (false) mythology of American Bandstand with valuable descriptions of ‘forgotten’ cultural productions.”
American Historical Review - Brian Ward

"Lively and perceptive. . . . Delmont’s book offers a subtle, refreshingly interdisciplinary reading of Bandstand as a site of the civil rights struggles in Philadelphia."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520272088
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 2/22/2012
  • Series: American Crossroads
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,029,516
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Matthew F. Delmont is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Scripps College.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Making Philadelphia Safe for “WFIL-adelphia”
Television, Housing, and Defensive Localism in Bandstand’s Backyard

2. They Shall Be Heard
Local Television as a Civil Rights Battleground

3. The de Facto Dilemma
Fighting Segregation in Philadelphia Public Schools

4. From Little Rock to Philadelphia
Making de Facto School Segregation a Media Issue

5. The Rise of Rock and Roll in Philadelphia
Georgie Woods, Mitch Thomas, and Dick Clark

6. “They’ll Be Rockin’ on Bandstand, in Philadelphia, P.A.”
Imagining National Youth Culture on American Bandstand

7. Remembering American Bandstand, Forgetting Segregation

8. Still Boppin’ on Bandstand
American Dreams, Hairspray, and American Bandstand in the 2000s

Conclusion
Everybody Knows about American Bandstand

Notes
Index

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