1950s – 1970
The period of the late 1950s to the early 1970s saw Black Music move more into the mainstream. For the first time, large numbers of white teenagers began listening to original songs by Black artists, and not the watered-down white cover versions.
In 1961, Berry Gordy's Motown became the sound of young America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Black artists like Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Sam Cooke achieved crossover success.
There may be no better example of the mainstreaming of Black music than Ray Charles's 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which ended the West Side Story soundtrack's 54-week run at number one on the Billboard charts.
Black music finely crafted and packaged for the masses.
Rock loses the roll but gains amplitude and attitude.
Soul gets high.
The sound of young America masterminded by Berry Gordy.
Combines rhythm & blues and gospel music styles.
The term covers subgenres like hard bop and free jazz.
March 2, 1955
Claudette Colvin is arrested at age 15 for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded bus helping to spark the Montgomery bus boycott.
September 17, 1957
Nat King Cole becomes the first African American to host his own national television program.
August 28, 1963
An estimated 250,000 people attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the largest gathering for civil rights of its time.
April 13, 1964
Sidney Poitier becomes the first Black man to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
April 4, 1968
Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.