Social life and the arts flourished, sometimes together, as the Lincoln and Apollo theaters, the Cotton Club, and the Savoy Ballroom provided first-class entertainment. Paul Robeson was known worldwide for his singing and acting as well as his controversial politics. Tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was called "The King of Harlem." Writers such as Langston Hughes, artists such as Jacob Lawrence, and musicians such as Fats Waller and Duke Ellington contributed to the explosion of creativity. However, many blacks were struggling even in the 1920s, and whites owned most of the businesses. The Great Depression, beginning in 1929, hit hardest the poor. Employment improved during the United States' involvement in World War II (1941–45), but Harlem's economy sank in the next twenty years. By the 1960s, when The Contender takes place, housing conditions had deteriorated; there
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Bojangles, black nationalist, Wallace D. Fard, popular black nationalist