Re: "Nice beat, nasty ban," July 26:
As executive producer of American Bandstand from 1957 to 1964, I was disturbed to read how columnist Annette John-Hall was exploited by a former Bandstander eager to promote a book she has written.
The column's message was that African American teenagers were not allowed access to dance on the nationally televised program. That information is absolutely not true. Host Dick Clark wrote in his book Dick Clark's Bandstand: "Philadelphia in the mid-'50s was one of the northernmost 'southern' cities around. It's no surprise that Bandstand was an exclusively white show from its beginnings in 1952 to 1957. When Tony [Mammarella] and I made the decision to bring in black dancers, no one had told us we had to, and we didn't make a big deal out of it. We found some black teenagers who wanted to dance on the show and invited them to the studio. The black guys danced with the black girls and the white guys danced with the white girls."
In those years of segregation, this was a risky business decision in that it was unknown whether network affiliates in the South would show the program. The stations did, and as a result, American Bandstand became a positive influence on race relations throughout the country.