Black History Month: Breaking the color barrier as Radio City Music Hall's 1st Black Rockette

Jennifer Jones, of Newark, was selected in 1987 at 20 years old and had her first debut as a Rockette at the 1988 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Karina Gerry

Feb 29, 2024, 1:24 PM

Updated 55 days ago

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More than 20 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned labor discrimination based on race, color religion, sex or national origin, the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes had their first African American dancer.
Jennifer Jones, of Newark, was selected in 1987 at 20 years old and had her first debut as a Rockette at the 1988 Super Bowl Halftime Show. She spent 15 years as a Rockette and had many people who supported her being there. However, Jones says not everyone was so welcoming.
"There were people in the organization that did want me there and some ladies on the line that said ‘hey, I'm going to send you the Rockette technique,” she said. “There were ladies on the line who turned their back, and there were people from around the country that told me I was ruining their holiday traditions.
Despite this negativity, Jones said she never let it get in the way of her love to dance.
In 2001, Jones joined the ensemble of the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” which won the Tony Award for best revival of a musical that year. And just last year, Jones released a children's book, called “On the Line: My Story of Becoming the First African American Rockette.”
"I was proud to usher in a new era for the Radio City Rockettes and open the golden backstage doors for Black ladies, to stand on that iconic landmark stage and call themselves Radio City Music Hall Rockettes," Jones said.


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