Coal, Railroads, and the Establishment of African American Life in West Virginia
This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this book, which is about the history of big band jazz in West Virginia during the 1930s and early 1940s. The book investigates what brought African Americans to the Mountain State, why they stayed, and how they became part of the national audience for big band jazz. It suggests that the principal reason for the popularity of big band jazz and dance music among African American Mountaineers was that they served as a source of racial identity and pride, and that the music of black dance orchestras was a marker of race, more particularly of racial pride and achievement.
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