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Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Show Must Not Go On

When and why did the City of Richmond turn against show business?

In the middle of the 20th century, officialdom in Virginia’s capital city used its powers to make it more difficult to offer entertainment to the public for profit. Laws and taxes were the tools. The unabashed racism that drove much policy 50 years ago was at the heart of why that strategy was set in motion.

Before World War II, Richmond was widely known for the vibrancy of its entertainment scene. The largest concentration of theaters and restaurants was downtown.

In the 1950s, with the Massive Resistance movement dominating Virginia’s politics, a social/political agenda entered the picture. The same guys who worked to prevent desegregation in public education decided that public entertainment should be discouraged, too. The same guys who wanted to keep blacks and whites drinking water from separate fountains, also wanted to see nightlife in Richmond confined mostly to private clubs.

In those days, cocktails -- liquor by the drink -- were only available in segregated, private bottle clubs and off-the-record speakeasies.

Read more................

The Show Mustn't Go On: "Is the City of Richmond taxing nightlife right out of the city?"

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