The 25 Most Important Civil Rights Moments in Music History

Chuck Berry's "Duckwalk" Integrates Southern Dancehalls

Date: 1956

Rock n' roll played an immeasurable part in getting blacks and whites stirred up during the 1950s. The genre itself was the result of a sustained, delicate blending of the blues and hillbilly sounds that defined and polarized the previous two decades. The early face of this new genre was Chuck Berry, and his risqué lyrics and signature moves sent teenagers of all colors into frenzy. A few years before Elvis's pelvic thrusts would define a generation, Berry's "Duckwalk" guitar solo created such demand from black and white audiences that clubs would hold integrated parties with velvet-ropes running down the middle of the dance floor to keep the races separated. With hits like "Maybellene" and "Johnny B. Goode" narrating the new youth movement, Chuck helped create the electrified new space where curiosities begat crossover and paradigm shifted, all with the kind of swag your favorite pop'n'lockin R&B singer would kill for.

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