Of Black America

Of Black America was a series of seven one-hour documentaries presented by CBS News in the summer of 1968, at the end of the Civil Rights Movement and during a time of racial unrest (Martin Luther King had been assassinated that spring and riots in many cities had followed). The groundbreaking[1] series explored various aspects of the history and current state of African-American community. The executive producer was Perry Wolff,[2][1] and the series was sponsored by the Xerox Corporation.

Of Black America
Genre Documentary
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 7
Original network CBS
Original release July 2 (1968-07-02) 
September 2, 1968 (1968-09-02)

The series was presented in prime time at 10:00 PM, on Tuesdays (a slot then usually reserved for CBS Reports documentaries and news shows), except for the last episode which aired on a Monday.

The first installment (“Black History: Lost, Stolen, Strayed”) won an Emmy Award and a Writers Guild of America Award for Andy Rooney.[3] Hal Walker, who co-anchored the final segment (“Portrait in Black and White”) with Charles Kuralt, was the first African American correspondent for CBS News and one of the first black journalists on national television news. He had just recently joined CBS after winning a local Emmy Award and the Capital Press Club‘s Journalist of the Year award for his work on “A Dialogue with Whitey”, a special report for WTOP about the King assassination riots in Washington, D. C.[4] This final segment featured the results of a large and extensive poll of both African-Americans and whites by Opinion Research Corporation.[1]

. . . Of Black America . . .

Number Title Producers Written by Hosts / Anchors Original air date
1 “Black History: Lost, Stolen, Strayed” Andy Rooney,
Vern Diamond
Perry Wolff,
Andy Rooney[2]
Bill Cosby July 2, 1968 (1968-07-02)[5]
Black American heritage, a psychiatrist analyzes African-American and white children’s drawings, characterizations of blacks in film, preparing black children for public school. Amos ‘n’ Andy appear.
2 “The Black Soldier” Peter Wolff Thomas A. Johnson,
Jon Wilkman
Bill Cosby July 9, 1968 (1968-07-09)[6]
History of the military role of African-Americans, from the American Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War which was then being fought.
3 “Black World”     Mike Wallace July 16, 1968 (1968-07-16)[7]
Kinship and degree of cultural interchange between Black America and Black Africa is covered. Ghanaian figures Tom Mboya and Alexander Kwapong appear, along with African-American leaders.
4 “Body and Soul” Andy Rooney,
Martin Carr
Andy Rooney[8] John Mosedale,
Harry Reasoner
July 30, 1968 (1968-07-30)[9]
Two parts, one on African-American athletes (including clips of Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, Bill Russell, and Jesse Owens) and one, featuring Ray Charles, on musicians (including clips of Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Nat “King” Cole, and Aretha Franklin).
5 “The Heritage of Slavery” Peter Davis,
Susan Garfield
Peter Davis George Foster August 13, 1968 (1968-08-13)[10]
Current attitudes of white and black Americans toward African-American history are discussed. Explanation of the slave trade, footage shot in Charleston, South Carolina including the Old Slave Mart Museum, interviews with activist Bill Saunders and editor Lerone Bennett Jr.
6 “In Search of a Past”   Arthur Rabin   August 20, 1968 (1968-08-20)[8]
7 “Portrait in Black and White” Jay L. McMullen,
Vern Diamond
Paul Loewenwarter Hal Walker,
Charles Kuralt
September 2, 1968 (1968-09-02)[11]
Results of a CBS News poll measuring racial attitudes. Walker presents on white racism and changes in white attitudes, Kuralt on African-American extremism and also on black pride.

. . . Of Black America . . .

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. . . Of Black America . . .