Harlem’s History and Showgirls

Wonderful movie called “Been Rich My Whole Life” by Heather Lyn MacDonald about the Silver Belles, a group of some of the original dancers from the choruses at the Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club in Harlem. The Belles still dance professionally, in their 80s: one is in her 90s. The Sweet Georgia Brown number is priceless.

As one of the younger dancers said: “They put seasoning in their steps.”

Fierce and unbelievably lovely: smiles like that should be everywhere!

This is a history of Harlem, its clubs, and the key contributions made to place development by these women and the musicians they worked with.

It’s also a love story.


Here’s the trailer:

Don’t think for two seconds this doesn’t have a transportation theme: they are on buses, on the subway. One has a two-hour bus/subway commute so that she can be part of the group.

Resisting segregation on transit

US transit has always been a place where failing to recognize civil rights becomes contested. Though most people know about Rosa Parks and the historic bus boycott in Montgomery, not as many people know about the ways in which African Americans worked through the courts to try to gain rights to equal citizenship through mobility.

David Skillen Bogen has a nice manuscript up on SSRN:

SSRN-Precursors of Rosa Parks: Maryland Transportation Cases Between the Civil War and the Beginning of World War I by David Bogen

I’m not really qualified to judge this manuscript as scholarship, as I am not an attorney, but I learned a lot reading through it about the history of segregation in Maryland following the Civil War, such as the resistance to segregated depots.