Posted on August 17th, 2010 in 1960s,1970s,Black History & Personalities,Celebrities,Music,Politics,Pop Culture by Terry Hamburg


I had a black girlfriend at the University of Southern California. Black-white couples were rare in those early boomer college days. Almost anywhere we went, people starred at us, even on campus. Most weren’t hostile, just surprised and curious. We got used to it.

I begged Sonya to take me to an “authentic” jazz club. Authentic meant going deep into Watts, a large, sprawling black section of south Los Angeles. Lots of white baby boomers “dug” the jazz beat but seldom had the chance to see it played in person. I’d never venture to a spot there alone. We didn’t regarded it as a problem as long as we went together.

Rumors circulated that John Coltrane would pop in. I “settled” for Howlin’ Wolf, who did a quick set on his way back to Chicago. Great music, but not the ambiance. I didn’t care that I was the only white at the club, but others did.

Howlin’ Wolf howling

Sonya was disappointed. It was racially mixed the last time she visited a few years ago. And the type of jazz had changed from the “cool riffs” of Miles Davis and Oscar Peterson to “a diet of Thelonious Monk” and other discordant, edgy sounds.

Thelonious Monk

Some of Sonya’s old high school friends were there, but hardly talked to her. It was clear they didn’t like her date. Just last year, she whispered between sets, her sister came with a white dude and it was “mellow.” One ardent young fellow from two tables away had to interrupt when he overheard me use the word “Negro.”

“I’m not Negro, man, I’m black.”

I apologized. I meant to say “black” but my tongue was faster than my brain, especially after a couple of drinks.

“The scene was weird,” Sonya said the next day. “You know, I could feel it on the street, too. The vibes aren’t good. It makes me nervous. Something’s going down out there.”

The Watts riots occurred in August, 1965, precipitated by a white officer arresting a black driver. When the smoke cleared five days later, 34 people were killed and property damage was estimated at $40 million.


What black star was in real life and on his television show a jazz fan?

Redd Fox
J.J. Walker
Bill Cosby
Flip Wilson

Who was the only black member of the infamous Chicago 8, tried for “inciting to riot” at the Democratic Convention in 1968?

Eldridge Cleaver
Bobby Seale
H. Rap Brown
Rev. Ralph Abernathy

Answers to Boomer Trivia Questions at end of post


Black % of total U.S. population (by self-identified census counts)

1950: 10%
1960: 10.5%
1970: 11.1%
1980: 11.8%
1990: 12.1%
2000: 12.9%

Is this an actual increase in numbers or more self-identification, or both?

Sports Firsts

1946 First Black in the National Football League (Kenny Washington & Woody Strode)
1947 First Black in Major League Baseball (Jackie Robinson)
1950 First Black in National Basketball Association (Earl Lloyd)


2000 Democrats nominate Al Gore for President.

1998 President Bill Clinton becomes the first President to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct in office, and admits an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with Monica Lewinsky.

1997 The first American Senior Golf Classic.

1988 Republicans nominate George H. W. Bush for President.

1987 Mohammad Ali is elected to Ring Magazine’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

1978 The Atlantic is crossed by balloon for the first time, with 3 Americans on board.

1962 Beatles replaces drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr.

1961 Building of the Berlin Wall begins.

1960 The infamous U-2 spy trial of Francis Gary Powers opens in Moscow.


Bill Cosby is a jazz aficionado in life. His character on The Cosby Show, Dr. Heathcliff Huxable, was portrayed as an ardent fan.

Bobby Seale, a member of the original Chicago 8. It was reduced to 7 when Seale refused to co-operate in court and removed from the trial.

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