Black Community Responds To Dick Clark’s Passing
1 year ago
Pres. Obama, musicians mourn impresario’s legacy of bridging cultures
On Wednesday evening, the world learned of TV and radio impresario Dick Clark’s passing. The 82-year-old died of a heart attack in a California hospital, after years of illness put a stopper on his ever-present tastemaker brand.
Most widely known by younger generations for his annual New Years Eve television special, Clark’s career spanned more than 60 years.
Not soon after news of his passing, the entertainment world began remembering the impact Clark had on integrating his iconic and historic TV show, American Bandstand – particularly giving airtime to African American musicians.
From an Associated Press report:
He helped give black artists their due by playing original R&B recordings instead of cover versions by white performers, and he condemned censorship.
He joined "American Bandstand" in 1956 after Bob Horn, who'd been the host since its 1952 debut, was fired. A year later, Clark integrated the show with black dancers.
"It still wasn't acceptable for them to dance with white kids, so the blacks just danced with each other. We were waiting for the explosion, but it never happened," Clark told Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine in 1998. "The wonderful part about our decision to integrate then was that there were no repercussions, no reverberations, no battles at all — it just happened right there on a television screen in front of millions of people."
President Barack Obama released a statement Wednesday evening from the White House: