…And here’s where I remind you that Dick Clark was kind of a sleaze
My story on how Dick Clark liked to pretend he integrated “American Bandstand,” when, in fact, he didn’t got picked up Poynter. Andrew Beaujon kinda undercuts the whole article by showing a clip of an integrated record review panel but the point of the piece wasn’t “Dick Clark hates black people” so much as “Dick Clark was a shrewd businessman who lied about his legacy to make him seem wholly progressive when he wasn’t.”
I didn’t put this in the article because I didn’t have space, but I asked Prof. Matt Delmont, who wrote “The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia,” about some of the other civil rights pioneers from Philly who used radio and pop music to further their cause. Here’s what he had to say about the great Georgie Woods (he mentions another guy named Mitch Thomas, who hosted “The Mitch Thomas Show,” a/k/a “Black Bandstand,” from ‘55 to ‘58.)
Georgie Woods is a good counterpoint to Dick Clark. They were both tremendous entrepreneurs. They both cared deeply about promoting music and rock ‘n’ roll. Where they differ, though, was the commercial aspects of this. Dick Clark was a great entrepreneur and he made a lot of money and that was his goal. For Georgie Woods, he was more interested in the community aspects. He was more interested in using rock ‘n’ roll to advance civil rights in Philadelphia. The overlap between civil rights activism and being a media personality is right here. He was announcing new protests while playing rock ‘n’ roll records. He was putting on shows at the Uptown Theater to raise money for not only Philadelphia but for the South as well. In terms of what was possible in the era of ‘American Bandstand,’ Georgie Woods and Mitch Thomas provide a nice counterpoint for ‘American Bandstand. It was possible to get African Americans on TV because Mitch Thomas did it. It was possible to use music for more than just increasing one’s personal fortune. He was able to increase awareness in Philadelphia.
Also! Let’s not forget Racist things people have told me today about “American Bandstand”!!