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