By Natasha Marshall, Rutgers University Extern
August is National Black Business Month, and the ACHP is spotlighting the Colored Musicians Club (CMC), a historic landmark and the oldest African American-owned musicians’ organization in the U.S. that is still up and running. The CMC has a long and important history that dates to 1917. That was the year that Buffalo Local 533, a union for musicians of color, was formed, as the Buffalo Local 43 union refused to include African American musicians. Eventually, some of the musicians of Buffalo Local 533 began spending time together after their jobs, creating a social club separate from the union that would eventually result in the CMC.
In 1934, the club became permanently housed at 145 Broadway in Buffalo, New York, which is still its location today. Though many clubs and unions for musicians of color struggled over the years, since they did not have as much power and influence as unions for white musicians, the CMC was able to remain intact and create a welcoming artistic environment for its members. In 1979, the club was designated a Buffalo historic landmark, and also is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, you can visit the club in Buffalo to take a tour of the Colored Musicians Club Museum or attend jazz-focused events. The club also has different levels of membership for those interested in getting more heavily involved. For more information about the club, see https://www.thecoloredmusiciansclub.com.