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Taking Control: Local Black Television

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In an interview in 1966, the founder of the Black Arts Movement, the poet Amiri Baraka, decried the absence of black subjects on television. As long as white producers, writers, and directors were the gatekeepers of the broadcast industry, Baraka believed, African Americans would not see themselves presented realistically, or even routinely.

This section looks at the rise of local black television in the 1960s and 1970s. Produced, directed, written, and hosted mostly by black journalists and entertainers, these shows, which served large but regional black communities, did not have to retain sponsors by attracting a chiefly white national audience. Freed from this restriction, they could concentrate on topics of particular interest to African Americans.

 

Image Credits/Captions (Click on thumbnails for full image)

TV Still: WTVS, Detroit.  Colored People’s Time, December 31, 1969. Courtesy WTVS. Watch:  http://matrix.msu.edu/~abj/videofull.php?id=51

TV Still WNET, Newark. Soul!,  March 1, 1972. Courtesy WNET.ORG. Watch:  http://www.thirteen.org/soul/2009/02/12/march-1-1972/