September 16, 2021

Learning from the Source: Amateur Night @ the Apollo Race Relations

Last Updated on February 8, 2021


Read an oral history excerpt or the full oral history account by an audience member who attended amateur night at the Apollo Theater in November, 1938.

In this account from American Life Histories, 1936-1940, Federal Writer Dorothy West describes an event that happened [there]. What does this event suggest about race relations in the late 1930s? What is West’s view of the actions of the audience and the emcee? What would you have done if you were the emcee? In the audience?

What can students glean from this account? How do they think it compares to a modern-day amateur night at the Apollo (note: video on YouTube)? What has changed? Has anything stayed the same?

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