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Black Culture and the New DealThe Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era$
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Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833124

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807899243_sklaroff

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Variety for the Servicemen

Variety for the Servicemen

(p.159) Chapter Five Variety for the Servicemen
Black Culture and the New Deal

Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the activation of the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS), over which Truman Gibson, civilian aide to the secretary of war, and Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. expressed great excitement. Two of the most influential black Americans involved in the war effort, Gibson and Davis indicated that the AFRS was making a “great contribution” and that the program was “easily the best from an administrative point of view.” This high praise is not surprising, given the AFRS's achievements in featuring black Americans on the radio. As part of its innovative program schedule to meet the entertainment needs of American soldiers, the AFRS developed Jubilee, an all-black variety show employing famous and talented musicians and comedians. Acknowledging the interests of black troops and the morale-boosting potential of individuals such as Duke Ellington and Lena Horne, the AFRS asserted that racialized programming was important to radio's wartime function.

Keywords:   Armed Forces, Radio Service, AFRS, Truman Gibson, racialized programming, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne

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