I watched a video yesterday from the Arsenio Hall late night television show, of a young black woman answering someones comment on her speaking voice. She put into words an idea I have been trying to project via my blog and, eventually, my book. One of the things she did was to champion women who had come before her. Women who were just ordinary women, but did extraordinary things. Like Dorothy Height, The President of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years. Born in 1912, Dorothy Height she was an educator and an organizer. She was on committees and commissions. In the 1960’s she organized Wednesdays in Mississippi, which was a group of black and white women who came together to create a dialogue of understanding. In 2004 Dorothy Height was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. She fought for civil rights and women’s rights. Dorothy Height even has a building named after her.
For that young lady to communicate positivity by championing who we are as black people, people like Dorothy Height, made me wish I could hug her. I thought, this is how you encourage people to achieve their goals, as opposed to focusing on how others may have held you back. The thing is, I want to reach, not just people of color, but anyone who feels they “can’t” do this or that, because of what others may say. Encouragement is what we need in this world. Television was the perfect place for her to be able to express herself and reach millions of people.
That young woman I saw put her passion into something positive, as opposed to projecting anger, she projected pride in those who came before her and paved the way. And she was young. Meaning she is able to reach an audience that I may not attract. I want our young people to remember the folks who struggled for the freedoms we enjoy today. To remember them and to use them as examples of perseverance and dedication and pride.
On June 26, 1948 there was an article in the New York Age newspaper about my father and his thoughts on television:
Eddie Greens Firm Aids Show Business Through Television. The fast growing field of television offers a fertile one for Negro performers, is the opinion of radio comedian, Eddie Green, who revealed that because of this fact his motion picture firm has interested advertising agencies in having their sponsors products sold to the millions who view television via the singing and dancing route.
Designed to catch and hold the attention of the millions who want entertainment on video, Green asserted that instead of the hackneyed manner of selling national consumer goods to the public, his firm will “Deliver the message in a way to keep viewers from turning the dial”. Organized two months ago in Los Angeles with the famed comedian as president, Sepia Productions has already lined up five three-minute skits which they plan to lease or sell outright to ad agencies.
Backstage at the Strand Theatre here, where he’s a member of the “Duffy’s Tavern” radio show, Green said that colored performers save(sic) their niche in the television picture and they should demand that their agents establish contacts with those that handle the shows In order not to be left out in the cold when the infant industry attains maturity. He pointed out that the decline of vaudeville witnessed many good Negro acts going out of business and little hope for the birth of new talent was anticipated until television offered vast potentialities!
Two years earlier, Eddie told the Baltimore AFRO: “I have little doubt that there will be more roles for colored entertainers in radio and although it may still be sometime away, I believe the day will come when at least one of the major networks will offer a chance to some young artist to head his own show.” Eddie may not necessarily have been talking about television networks, but I bet he had them in mind. Eddie knew what he was talking about. Though he was not the first person of color to be on a major network, Arsenio Hall did have his own show back in 1989 and now, once again, he is back and providing some very uplifting entertainment.
One last thing. My father was an electronics wiz. He liked to tinker with radios and television sets. He had ideas. My mom told me that Eddie was the way ahead of his time regarding television. One day in 1945, Eddie decided to cut a hole in the wall between the kitchen and the living room so that he could put the TV in the wall. Mom said that the fact that people have their TV on their walls these days is nothing new. She said the only problem was, that the back of the TV stuck out into the kitchen and was really ugly.
That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.