African Americans and US popular culture since 1895
in The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America
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The first tentative indications that times were changing came in the 1960s and, more particularly, the 1970s. The sustained civil rights protests of these years contributed to growing interest by scholars in examining the strategies of protest and accommodation adopted by African Americans in earlier periods. The daily lives of black slaves in the antebellum South became an especial focus for academic study. Historian Daniel Leab's line of enquiry typified what by the 1980s had become a dominant trend in studies by cultural historians, namely to explore the origins, character and significance of stereotyped depictions of African Americans in US popular culture. The 1990s saw both rapid and unprecedented developments in the academic study of popular culture. In part this interest can be seen as reflecting the cult of celebrity that enveloped the leading stars of sport, music, film and television entertainment at the close of the century.

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