Synopses & Reviews
Chronicling over forty years of critical changes in African-American expressive and popular culture, covering diverse forms of music, dance, and comedy, the Regal Theater (1928-1968) was the largest and most architecturally splendid movie-stage-show venue ever constructed for a black community. In this history of that theater, Clovis E. Semmes reveals the political, economic, and business realities of cultural production and the institutional inequalities that circumscribed black life.
"This magnificent volume should be indispensable reading for students of African- American and American culture. It provides searching scholarship from which sophisticated students, no less than beginners in the field, are likely to learn much. One cannot help but note that the cultural offerings of Chicago were brilliantly in evidence during the time the national spotlight was for so long focused on New York's Harlem. A landmark achievement."--Sterling Stuckey, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, University of California at Riverside
"In this exhaustively researched, skillfully crafted, study, Clovis E. Semmes has vividly recreated the forty year life span (1928-1968) of black Chicagos cultural cornerstone, the Regal Theater. Although the physical Regal Theater is gone (having met the wrecking ball more than a generation ago), The Regal Theater and Black Culture admirably insures that this African American urban landmark
will not be forgotten."--Robert E. Weems, Jr., author of Black Business in the Black Metropolis: The Chicago Metropolitan Assurance Company, 1925-1985 "Semmes provides a fascinating study of one of America's most important theater institutions. By providing such a rich history of the Regal Theater, Semmes is also able to make broader claims about the negotiation of race in the 20th century. This book is vital reading for anyone interested in American performance history and African American popular culture. A major contribution!"--Nadine George-Graves, Associate Professor, UCSD, Department of Theater and Dance
"Clovis E. Semmes The Regal Theater and Black Culture is an insightful look into the social history and community function of one of the most important and unique cultural venues in black America, Chicagos Regal Theater. Located in the heart of Chicagos now revitalizing Bronzeville (South Side) district, it was the only theater/entertainment palace ever constructed specifically for blacks by whites in an all-black community. While physically imposing, its ideological role reached equal heights of significance. This study opens the door to a comprehensive understanding of the past state of black entertainment as well as the deep-rooted popular appreciation and affirmation of black culture."--Christopher R. Reed, Department of History, Roosevelt University, and author of Black Chicagos First Century, Volume One, 1833-1900; “All the World Is Here”: The Black Presence at White City; and The Chicago NAACP And the Rise of Black Professional Leadership, 1910-1966 "Clovis E. Semmess The Regal Theater and Black Culture reflects the elegance of Black cultural productions with an easy-to-read, clear, alluring writing style that chronicles the richness of Chicagos Regal Theater. While New Yorks Apollo Theater has enjoyed national and international popularity, Semmess work emerges as an essential contribution, demonstrating that New York and its Apollo were not the first modernist representations of the multifaceted nature of Black talent and entertainment. Providing a Black-centered, insider microscopic picture of the interrelationship between Chicago as a 'Black Metropolis' and the cultural productions of the Regal Theater, this book emerges as an invaluable resource for students and seasoned scholars of Black literary, anthropological, political, sociological, architectural, legal, economical, historical epistemology as well as musical and dance productions. Reading this book is a journey through Bronzeville, the center of southside Black Chicago, and the location of the Regal Theater, between 1928 and 1968."--Joyce A. Joyce, Professor of English, Temple University
About the Author
Clovis E. Semmes is Professor of Black Studies and Sociology and Director of Black Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Professor Emeritus of African American Studies at Eastern Michigan University. He earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University. Semmess teaching and research include the impact of systemic inequality on African American institutional and cultural development, the conceptual and theoretical foundations of knowledge in African American studies, African American expressive and popular culture, comparative urban communities, and health systems and practices among African Americans, especially alternative and non-medical health systems and practices. Among his publications are Cultural Hegemony and African American Development; Racism, Health, and Post-Industrialism; and Roots of Afrocentric Thought: A Reference Guide to Negro Digest/Black World, 1961-1976.
Table of Contents
The Opening: Separate but Equal * The Depression Years: Privilege in the Marketplace and Black Stewardship * The End of Monopoly and the End of Swing * The Decline of Commercial Segregation and the Transition to Independence * Rebirth, Black Ownership, and the Closing of the Palace * Retrospect and Lessons Learned