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Moment of Indiana History

Indiana and The Jazz Age

With increasing numbers and concentration of African Americans in cities like Indianapolis, Gary, Fort Wayne, and Muncie, Black entertainment in Indiana flourished during the period from 1930 through the 1950’s.

Although establishments like Gary’s Louisiana Kitchen existed within the African American communities of many Indiana cities, it was Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis which became nationally known as a hotspot of Black culture. It was along “The Avenue” that many black entertainers launched their careers playing jazz and the blues in establishments with names like Walker Casino, Cotton Club, Danny’s Dreamland, and the Blue Eagle.

Unlike the Harlem Renaissance in Harlem, clubs in Indiana were unique in featuring African American entertainers playing to audiences almost exclusively made up of other African Americans. This situation fostered the development of a unique cultural phenomenon that was wiped out with the racial integration of entertainment venues in the early 60’s.

(Photo Credit: Indiana Historical Society)

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