The great black way
Donald Bogle's previous books chronicling black contributions to film and television have set the stage for his latest work Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood. Though his other books presented the story of black performers in relationship to what they accomplished while dealing with racism, that is not the main goal of Bogle's new volume. Instead, he shows the rise of an alternate community, one that delighted in its own accomplishments and neither depended on nor looked to its white counterpart for approval. The black Hollywood that emerged during the '20s and continued on into the early '70s, where Bogle ends his overview, had its own class structure, media, support culture and ethos. It wasn't that those in black Hollywood were oblivious to the suffering occurring elsewhere in America. Their response was to create a world where race didn't matter, where they often became power brokers when white stars came to black clubs and events and were deemed outsiders. Performers such as the Nicholas Brothers, Lena Horne, Fredi Washington and publisher Carlotta Bass enjoyed being celebrities among African Americans, and though their stardom was improved either through appearances in "mainstream" films or by keeping contact with the major studios and producers, they truly felt independent and at peace in black Hollywood.