Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gem, Waco Texas

Russell Lee, Photographer, November 1939, United States Farm Security Administration

Teri Jo Ryan, Waco Tribune-Herald, June 18, 2011:
"The Gem, an exclusively 'colored theatre' that opened in the 1930s on the south side of the old courthouse square, could seat more than 550 people. It was operated until the late 1950s by Bijou Amusement Co,, a North Carolina company chartered in 1915 that owned a chain of theatres in the South catering to blacks."

"Waco's 25,000 Negros had only one movie house and two balconies in white shows."   

Waco History, "Bridge Street" by Amanda Sawyer:

Image: Texas Collection, Baylor University 

"Bridge Street provided a communal gathering place for Waco's minorities. Businesses such as the Gem Theater, an 'exclusive colored theater,' offered a respite from prejudice and segregation during the mid-twentieth century." 

Since 1997 theatre historian,  Cezar Del Valle, has conducted a popular series of  theatre talks and walks, available for  historical societies, libraries, senior centers, etc.
Walks also available at Local Expeditions
Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres.
The first two chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society. Final volume published in September 2014.
Editing and updating the third edition of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, Volume I.

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