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Maya Angelou doing a little reading in her dressing room before her performance at the Village Vanguard in New York City. Long before she was a poet and writer and the icon we know today, Dr. Angelou was a dancer and singer of folk and calypso songs (she even recorded an album in 1957 called “Miss Calypso” and appeared in the film “Calypso Heat Wave” that same year.

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Josephine Baker in the dressing room of the Johann Strauss Theatre in Vienna. 1928.

African American Burlesque Performer Jo Ann Norris (1960s)
American Burlesque Performer Jo Ann Norris (1960s)”

Donyale Luna (born Peggy Ann Freeman), model & actress. She was the 1st African American model to appear on the cover of British Vogue
Donyale Luna (born Peggy Ann Freeman), model & actress. She was the 1st African American model to appear on the cover of British Vogue

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Debra Allen and sister Phylicia Rashad

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Pearl Bailey
Pearl Bailey, an entertainer who combined singing with ad libs, was in 1975 a special ambassador to the United Nations. She’s most famous for her version of Hello, Dolly!

beverly-johnson
Beverly Johnson was the first black model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974. A year later, she became the first black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Elle.

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First African American actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Dramatic Series

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Janet Collins, the first black prima ballerina of the Metropolitan Opera House in the early 1950’s.

Dorothy Dandridge
Dorothy Dandridge

pam-grier
Pam Grier was one of the queens of cinema in the 1970s, rightfully earning her title as the Queen of Blaxploitation. In the 1970s, Pam Grier personified the tough, assertive, ass-kicking Black woman who commanded respect and dealt punishment to those who refused to give her props. Beginning the decade with a bit role in the radical film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Pam Grier headlined two films in the women-in-prison genre in 1971, Women in Cages and The Big Doll House.

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       Joyce Bryant, an African American blues and jazz singer with a four and a half octave range. In the early 1950’s, her silver hair and shimmering low-cut, skin-tight gowns demanded attention, as did the songs deemed too sexy for radio. She played Miami’s top nightclub, Manhattan’s Copacabana and Hollywood’s Coconut Grove.

1950s African American Beach Beauties!
1950s African American Beach Beauties!
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