Educational resources for:

Sports and Entertainment


As the era of segregated entertainment and culture came to an end, black youth were offered visions of escape from ghetto life by rags-to-riches stories of famous actors, sports heroes, and entertainers. Mass communications amplified this trend and exploited the gladiatorial, masculine culture of professional sports and popular entertainment to reach an economically influential segment of African-American youth. ABJ interviewees from this sector discussed their controversial position as role models for urban black males.

Featured Show Clips & Comprehension Questions

Related Videos

"Free Your Mind" Public Service Announcement ("Two Selves")

"Free Your Mind" hair straightening product sketch

"Free Your Mind" satirical "commercial" for skin lightening cream

A documentary on the racial issues raised in the context of the 1968 Olympic Games

Arthur Mitchell discusses the beginning of his interest in dance

Arthur Mitchell talks about dance and movement as the fundamental art form

Arthur Mitchell's philosophy of teaching dance to young people

Interview with Martha Jean (the Queen) Steinberg about the "forgotten people" of the working class

James Brown discusses his commitment to his audience

James Brown discusses his philosophy of life and his desire to look beyond race to just people

James Brown talks about his lack of formal education and the need for artistic control over the work he does

Ossie Davis recounts how he and Ruby Dee began to focus their work on materials created by African American authors

Ossie Davis reflects on the art of acting

Two songs by the Brothers of Soul

Thematic Questions

What do the "Free Your Mind" segments suggest about at least one focus of entertainment in the African American community?

What similarities do you see in the ideas of Ossie Davis and Arthur Mitchell about artistic expression, and what, if anything, do you think these say about African American culture?

What does the segment on the 1968 Olympics in the Colored People's Time 13 program suggest about the significance of athletics for African Americans?


African American World - Arts and Culture
One of the four channels to NPR/PBS's African-American World , this section explores past and present artistic and cultural expressions and artists in the African-American community. Includes educational resources, timelines, references of interest, and a section for children.
A site devoted to the work of black film professionals and African-American cinema. In addition it covers the work of individuals in the entertainment industry, provides film reviews, and information for artists, and discussion of various genres.

Dance Theater of Harlem
The official site of the Dance Theater of Harlem. Includes a history of the organization, information regarding its school, as well as open auditions and dates of upcoming productions. Of interest is their outreach program, "Dancing Through Barriers."

Detroit Youth Foundation
The DYF programs target at-risk youth, providing positive alternatives in a supportive, productive environment. The Foundation's programs target six core areas: leadership development, cultural and fine arts, education and academic enrichment, technology, health and fitness, and music.

Harlem, 1900-1940: An African-American Community
An online exhibition portfolio of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. This exhibit explores Harlem as the "Cultural Capital" for African Americans. It provides a comprehensive look at the community – from activism and business to diversity in the arts including playwrights, actors, musicians and sports heroes. Includes resources for educators.

Related Films

Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.
DVD. 60 minutes.
Directed by Byron Hurt. Northhampton, Mass.: Media Education Foundation, 2006.
A documentary examining homophobia, masculinity, violence and sexism in hip hop culture. Contains interviews with rap notables including Fat Joe and Chuck D on the topic of masculinity and sexism.

I Am A Man: Black Masculinity in American Culture.
VHS/DVD. 60 minutes.
Directed by Bryon Hurt. Northhampton, Mass.: Media Education Foundation, 2006.
Documentary exploring the understanding of Black masculinity and identity across various socioeconomic lines. Framed with interviews from academics, authors, and social critics.

Black Olympians, 1904-1984: Athletics and Social Change in America.
Directed by Jeff Goldschen. Los Angeles: Churchill Films, 1986.
This film documents the struggle for inclusion and achievements of African-Americans in the Olympic Games. It features athletes such as Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph and covers events such as the Black Power salute at the 1968 games.

Hoop Dreams.
DVD. 170 minutes.
Directed by Steve James. Minneapolis, Minn.: KCTA Minneapolis, 1994.
A documentary following two young high school basketball players from Chicago and their efforts to obtain college scholarships with hopes of playing in the NBA.


Bogle, Donald. Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
A history of African Americans on network television from the 1940s through the 1990s. The author critically examines the portrayal of African Americans on the small screen as well as African American contributions to it.

DeFrantz, Thomas. Dancing Revelations: Alvin Ailey’s embodiment of African American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
An examination of dancer Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater from its inception in the early 1960s through the late twentieth century. The author places Ailey’s work in historical context to demonstrate his influence on African-American culture.

Powell, Kevin. Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?: Manhood, Race, and Power in America. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
Three essays by journalist Kevin Powell on the subjects of masculinity, violence, and hip hope and celebrity cultures.

Snyder, Brad. Beyond the Shadow of Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 20003.
A forty year history of the Negro League’s “most successful” franchise, the Homestead Grays, and their efforts to integrate baseball.

Watkins, S. Craig. Representing: Hip Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
The author claims the rise of Spike Lee and the growth of “ghettocentric films” to be the two greatest developments in recent black cinema history. Tackles the contradiction of black youths as targets of “a fierce racial backlash” of a variety of social concerns against their commercial marketability.

Additional Show Clips & Comprehension Questions

Related Videos

Lena Horne reflects on the strength of black women and gives advice for younger generations

Lena Horne describes getting started in show business

Nikki Giovanni discusses the nature of artistic growth and the process of building on what was done by earlier generations