This original post was published on February 1st, 2020. We have since made some updates for 2021.
Black history is Lindy Hop history.
Black History is World History.
Black History is 365 days of the year.
Black History has roots and legacy.
Black History *is* Lindy Hop history.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we as a community have NOT been doing enough.
Black History Month is an opportunity for all of us in the Lindy Hop community to recognize and celebrate the Black people who created this dance. This is a time to be deliberate. Let’s reflect, recognize, educate, and celebrate the many contributions of African American Jazz and Swing Era musicians and singers, and the originators of the Harlem-born dance we enjoy today.
We must never forget that we have Black people to thank for Lindy Hop.
We should honestly ask ourselves:
“How have *I* benefited from this dance?”
“How has this dance enriched my life?”
“How can I give back to our community?”
Every one of us has a responsibility to speak up and insist that Lindy Hop’s narrative and history is shared. We must continue to educate ourselves and others about the African American roots of this dance that we love.
Some questions that we are trying to ask ourselves all year round, not just during Black History Month, are:
- Are we creating opportunities for Black dancers?
- Are we respecting Black roots of the dance?
- How can we take action and do more?
We all need to work on and improve in our community.
This year during Black history month and all year long, reflect, learn, and share.
Last year marked the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. Learn more about the Harlem Renaissance and the Great Migration of Blacks from the Diaspora to Harlem, all of which is directly related to the music and dances of the 1920s and beyond. We can all start to research about all of the early Lindy Hoppers, musicians, and early influencers including people like Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb, Count Basie, Paul Robeson, Madame C J Walker, Dr. W.E.B DuBois, Bessie Smith, and host others. Thank you Julia Loving from Harlem and Swing With Us NYC for the great information!
Here are some actions you can take this February for Black History Month
1) Learn something new about Black History! It could be from a website, blog, book, video, etc. You can have a look a the work in progress that we’re undertaking on this history page.
2) Share a link to a blog, article, or video to spread the knowledge and awareness
3) Share something that has inspired you from watching original or contemporary Black dancers
4) Donate to one of the many excellent Black and BIPOC organizations that we’re supporting at iLindy, like the Black Lindy Hoppers Fund, Swing Dance Uganda, or the Harlem Swing Dance Society.
5) Pick a famous video, like Hellzapoppin’. Can you name every dancer in the video? If not, now is the time to learn about them!
6) Remember that historical dancers, especially women – and especially Black women – tend to be unnamed/ignored/made invisible. There are other important dancers besides Frankie and Norma. Learn about them!
8) Look at some current day videos and podcasts about Black Lindy Hoppers
9) If you are a scene organizer or event organizer revisit these 20 Questions About Making Your scene more inclusive: https://www.frankiemanningfoundation.org/questions/
Catch the new workshop from Collective Voices for Change (CVFC).
Watch this video while it’s available-
Lots of Work & Improvement Ahead
We all have a long way to go to make Black History part of our every day awareness. We look forward to learning, improving, and sharing with you.
⭐Thank you to Julia Loving from the Harlem swing dance community and Swing With Us NYC for your collaboration and suggestions.
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