Al Jolson

15″ x 22.5″


***Laurence Fishburne owns one of these pillows

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) during its peak in the early 1920s, included about 15% of the nation’s eligible voting population, 4-5 million men.  While D.W. Griffith created the blockbuster movie The Birth of a Nation, which glorified white supremacy and the KKK, Jolson chose to star in The Jazz Singer, which defied racial bigotry by introducing American black music to white audiences worldwide.

While growing up, he had many black friends, including Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, who later became a legendary tap dancer

As early as 1911, at the age of 25, he was already noted for fighting discrimination on the Broadway stage and later in his movies

In 1919 Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle were refused service in a Connecticut restaurant. Jolson heard about this and promptly tracked them down and told them that he would take them back there and he would “punch anyone who tried to stop us” Blake and Sissle never forgot Jolson’s thoughtfulness, and they remained his friends for the rest of his life. Noble Sissle represented the Negro Actor’s Union at Jolson’s funeral.

In the 1920’s, Garland Anderson, a porter who was a fledgling playwright, approached Jolson about a play he had written. He was a Black man. Thanks to Jolson’s efforts on his behalf the piece became the first drama with an all-Black cast ever produced on Broadway.

He demanded equal treatment for Cab Calloway, with whom he performed a number of duets in his movie The Singing Kid.

Perhaps as a result of this, perhaps not, but it remains that Al Jolson was the only white man allowed into Leroy’s, an all Black nightclub in Harlem. This was no small honour.

Jolson was actually a hero to the black people of America. At his funeral, black actors lined the way, they really appreciated what he’d done for them.”Noble Sissle, then president of the Negro Actors’ Guild, represented that organization at his funeral.

 Al Jolson’s final resting place and memorial were designed by a prominent Black architect.

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