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May 30: The King of Swing

Benny Goodman, the clarinetist and bandleader who helped to racially integrate the jazz world and heighten the “respectability” of jazz by playing a 1938 Carnegie Hall concert with black and white players on stage, was born in Chicago, the ninth of twelve children in his family, on this date in 1909. Goodman made his professional […]

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April 15: Integrating MLB

Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on this date in 1947, the first black player in Major League Baseball in the 20th century. Lester Rodney, sportswriter for the communist Daily Worker, who had been campaigning (along with Bill Mardo and several writers for African-American papers) to break baseball’s color line for more than a […]

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September 24: The Last Game at Ebbets Field

The Brooklyn Dodgers played their last game at Ebbets Field on this date in 1957, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0. The Dodgers had been a rare cohesive force in working-class Brooklyn, “very close,” writes Andrew Paul Mele, “to the spiritual core of… an otherwise racially, religiously, and ethnically divided city.” By signing Jackie Robinson in […]

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January 16: Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall

Benny Goodman blew the lid off Carnegie Hall on this date in 1938, in a legendary jazz concert that made the “uptown” (i.e., Black) music respectable among the midtown set. The “King of Swing” was joined onstage by Lionel Hampton, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Teddy Wilson and other Black musicians, marking the first time that […]

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