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Becoming Belafonte : Black Artist, Public Radical - Judith E. Smith

Becoming Belafonte

Black Artist, Public Radical

Hardcover

Published: 15th September 2014
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A son of poor Jamaican immigrants who grew up in Depression-era Harlem, Harry Belafonte became the first black performer to gain artistic control over the representation of African Americans in commercial television and film. Forging connections with an astonishing array of consequential players on the American scene in the decades following World War II - from Paul Robeson to Ed Sullivan, John Kennedy to Stokely Carmichael - Belafonte established his place in American culture as a hugely popular singer, matinee idol, internationalist, and champion of civil rights, black pride, and black power. In Becoming Belafonte, Judith E. Smith presents the first full-length interpretive study of this multitalented artist. She sets Belafonte's compelling story within a history of American race relations, black theater and film history, McCarthy-era hysteria, and the challenges of introducing multifaceted black culture in a moment of expanding media possibilities and constrained political expression. Smith traces Belafonte's roots in the radical politics of the 1940s, his careful negotiation of the complex challenges of the Cold War 1950s, and his full flowering as a civil rights advocate and internationally acclaimed performer in the 1960s. In Smith's account, Belafonte emerges as a relentless activist, a questing intellectual, and a tireless organizer. From his first national successes as a singer of Calypso-inflected songs to the dedication he brought to producing challenging material on television and film regardless of its commercial potential, Belafonte stands as a singular figure in American cultural history - a performer who never shied away from the dangerous crossroads where art and politics meet. A son of poor Jamaican immigrants who grew up in Depression-era Harlem, Harry Belafonte became the first black performer to gain artistic control over the representation of African Americans in commercial television and film. Forging connections with an astonishing array of consequential players on the American scene in the decades following World War II - from Paul Robeson to Ed Sullivan, John Kennedy to Stokely Carmichael - Belafonte established his place in American culture as a hugely popular singer, matinee idol, internationalist, and champion of civil rights, black pride, and black power.In Becoming Belafonte, Judith E. Smith presents the first full-length interpretive study of this multitalented artist. She sets Belafonte's compelling story within a history of American race relations, black theater and film history, McCarthy-era hysteria, and the challenges of introducing multifaceted black culture in a moment of expanding media possibilities and constrained political expression. Smith traces Belafonte's roots in the radical politics of the 1940s, his careful negotiation of the complex challenges of the Cold War 1950s, and his full flowering as a civil rights advocate and internationally acclaimed performer in the 1960s. In Smith's account, Belafonte emerges as a relentless activist, a questing intellectual, and a tireless organizer. From his first national successes as a singer of Calypso-inflected songs to the dedication he brought to producing challenging material on television and film regardless of its commercial potential, Belafonte stands as a singular figure in American cultural history - a performer who never shied away from the dangerous crossroads where art and politics meet.

Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter 1: From Harlem, Jamaica, and the Segregated Navy to New York City's Interracial Left-Wing Culture, 1927-1948 Chapter 2: Black Left, White Stage, Cold War: Moving into the Spotlight, 1949-1954 Chapter 3: Multimedia Stardom and the Struggle for Racial Equality, 1955-1960 Chapter 4: Storming the Gates: Producing Film and Television, 1957-1970 Afterword Abbreviations for Notes Notes Index

ISBN: 9780292729148
ISBN-10: 0292729146
Series: Discovering America
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 15th September 2014
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 14.0  x 2.9
Weight (kg): 0.65