Sammy Davis Jr. with his arms opened and smiling
(Photo by Bettman/Getty Images)

Music of The Movement: How Sammy Davis Jr. Broke Color Barriers

In honor of Black Music Month, today we are honoring the legendary Sammy Davis.Jr. 

Sammy Davis Jr has become an icon in his own right. The former rat-pack member would go on to break color barriers throughout his illustrious career.  Here are some ways that he accomplished that goal. 

Bringing representation to an all-white TV show “Laugh-In”

According to an article in Variety, Davis was viewed as a god for being a black man being featured on a “white-Hipster show”, which led to him breaking barriers for others. 

Sammy Davis Jr. helped integrate network television. 

In 1952, Davis is coined for helping integrate network television. He appeared on Eddie Cantor’s show Colgate Comedy. It was then were he became a trailblazer. He would also be the first to have an on-stage interracial kiss with Broadway actress, Paula Wayne in the play, “The Golden Boy. 

He held some iconic presidential moments.

Sammy Davis Jr. has been known for backing Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign. He urged African American people that Nixon’s program could benefit them in the long run. He would also go on to perform in a White House special in honor of the Vietnam War prisoners. He would also go on to participate in both John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaigns. 

His infamous kiss with Archie Bunker who be known as the “Kiss heard around the world.”

It no secret that All in the Family character Archie Bunker wasn’t a big fan of “colored” people. In the episode, Sammy Davis Jr. gives Bunker a big kiss while taking a picture. The moment was known as the kiss heard around the world. See the moment below.

This wasn’t the only barrier that Davis had broken throughout his career. Like many African American musicians during the 1950s and 1960s, they were not allowed to perform in certain places and for white audiences. Sammy Davis Jr. was among the few who helped break that and for his efforts we will forever thank him.

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