The world famous Apollo Theater is so much more than a historic landmark – it is a source of pride and a symbol of the brilliance of American artistic accomplishment. With its rich history and continued significance, the Apollo Theater, considered the bastion of African-American culture and achievement, is one of the most fascinating chronicles in American history.

It all started in 1914 when the theater was constructed on 125th Street, the heart of Harlem. Originally, it was named Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theatre and African-Americans were not allowed in the audience. In 1934: Ralph Cooper, Sr. decided to do a live version of his already popular radio show, Amateur Nite Hour at the Apollo , at the Apollo Theater, then owned by the Schiffman family. Ella Fitzgerald, who invented the vocal technique known as “SCAT”, was one of the first Amateur Night winners. That same year, Cooper, Benny Carter and “16 Gorgeous Hot Steppers” dazzled the crowds with the theater’s first “Colored Revue.”

Since then, a multitude of stars and game-changers in African-American cultural lore have graced its magnificent stage. Each year, the Apollo Theatre Foundation hosts a fundraising gala to raise money to keep this historic landmark alive year after year.



Submit a 75 word essay, memory, or thought about the significance of the Apollo Theater in your life or in the lives of African-Americans everywhere in the comments section of this story.* We will choose the best one and announce the winner on June 7th, 2009. You will be contacted through your BP member page.


The lucky winner will receive TWO (2) tickets to attend the 75th Annual Apollo Theater Fundraising Gala in Harlem on Monday, June 8, 2009!! The tickets are valued at $1000 each. Hosted by comedian/actor/radio personality Steve Harvey, the gala will feature the induction of Quincy Jones and Patti LaBelle, who will be presented with their awards by Jamie Foxx and Mariah Carey. Past inductees into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame include Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard and Ella Fitzgerald.

*Comments MUST be submitted in THIS story to be eligible for the prize.


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