The Great Depression And President Roosevelt 's New Deal

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The 1930s, a time of great racial tension and segregation, is historically remembered for the Great Depression and President Roosevelt’s New Deal. Slavery had ended and the Ku Klux Klan started to become less popular; the struggle for African Americans, however, was not over. Racial segregation continued to thrive with half of African Americans out of work, their jobs given to whites who were struggling from the Great Depression (“Race During the Great Depression”). The New Deal, created to promote equality and produce jobs, was largely ineffective on the front of desegregation, doing little to help the black American community. One place that African Americans were able to prosper: jazz. However, even the jazz community itself was segregated. Racial prejudice came from both fronts: whites did “not want to mix socially with Negroes,” and black people believed that “when a Negro enters a White band, he loses his identity as a Negro musician” (“DownBeat Dodges the Racial Issue”). Benny Goodman, however, broke this barrier, initially in 1935 with the first interracial jazz performance, and again in his 1938 Carnegie Hall concert featuring black musicians. Benny Goodman’s career did not begin with the Trio’s 1935 performance; a clarinet player from a young age, Goodman started his professional career in 1925 as a member of the Ben Pollack Orchestra. During his time in the orchestra, he recorded his first solo on the song “He’s the Last Word.” In 1931, Benny Goodman began
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