Elvis Presley: Positive Impact On The Race Relations Of The South

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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Rock n' roll has come to be known as America's great hybrid. The steam of music that came out of America's turbulent decade known as the 50's embodies the changes that occurred in popular culture. The most remarkable change the music helped bring about was the racial integration of blacks and whites. Elvis Presley was a key figure in bringing about the respect and appreciation for "race music" in the 1950's. His increasing popularity increased the opportunities for blacks both inside and out of the industry having a positive effect on racial relations, particularly in the south. America's youth adopted and embraced Elvis Presley as the generations "King of Rock n' Roll." During the decade of the 1950's American popular culture began to transform into a youth culture. For the first time teens weren't being forced to work to help supplement the family's income. Instead, many of them received allowances and had a form of disposable income.

A large portion of this extra money was seeked out and obtained by the expanding music industry of the time. In turn, the youth got rock and roll. A new stream of music formed by the merging of country, black pop, jazz, and the blues. Rock and roll quickly became a defining component of the new generation.

The development of rock n' roll was influential in breaking down many of the racial and social barriers that existed at the time. Their interest and appreciation for "race music" or rhythm and blues brought a new respect and cultural awareness for blacks in America. Non-threatening white artists first introduced America's youth to race music. When a black artist would record a song that was a potential hit, the industry would have a white group record a cover of the song. Such as the Crew Cuts...