Blacks on Television: Amos & Andy Essay

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Portrayal of African Americans on television is frequently a controversial topic. Throughout its rather brief history, television, in its programming, has skewed predominantly white, (Pringozy, 2007). This was clearer in the 1950s and early 1960s, and it even remained true throughout the 1970s, when television shows with mainly all African American casts became hits, (Strausbaugh, 2006). The success of The Cosby Show in the 1980s helped to improve race relations somewhat, or at least on television, (McNeil, 1996). Still, controversy continued, and still does to this day, as to which shows present negative stereotypes of African Americans and which ones do not, (Strausbaugh, 2006). Therefore, when talking about the history of African…show more content…
The show finally debuted on June 28, 1951, (Rice, 2009). The television version, likewise to the radio version, proved to be a big success, and in fact rated 13th in the A.C. Neilson television ratings for the 1951-1952-television season, (Rice, 2009). However, as soon as the show debuted, it began drawing criticism from various organizations for its allegedly negative portrayal of American Americans, (Rice, 2009). An example of this criticism came from a bulletin issued by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on August 15, 1951, entitled “Why The Amos and Andy Show Should be Taken Off the Air”, (Rice, 2009). Some of the accusations included “Every character in this one and only TV show with an all Negro cast is either a clown or a crook” (Rice, 2009), “Negro doctors are shown as quacks and thieves” (Rice, 2009), and “It tends to strengthen the conclusion among uniformed and prejudiced people that Negros are inferior, lazy, dumb, and dishonest” (Rice, 2009). Despite protests such as these, The Amos and Andy Show remained a hit until it ceased production in 1953, (Rice, 2009). The show’s last original broadcast came on June 11, 1953, (Rice, 2009). After ending its broadcast run, the reruns of the show were widely syndicated, (Rice, 2009). This all changed in 1963, when CBS Films, the company that was syndicating the show, announced that they had sold reruns of the show to Kenya and Western Nigeria, (Rice,

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