Colored People's Time 5

Colored People's Time 5 (November 14, 1968)
Duration: 56:53:09

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Themes: Education and Families | Leadership | Musical Roots and Branches | Poverty, Progress, and the Rise of African-American Businesses and Professionals |

Guests: International Gospel Choir, Black Students Association, Arthur Ashe Jr, George Kirby, Bill Murphy, Gwen McKinney, Kim Weston, Marcus Belgrave, Thomas Bowles, Diane Carol, Hal McKinney
Host : Tony Brown
Producer : Gilbert Maddox, Tony Brown


Summary: In the fall of 1968, the program that would become Detroit Black Journal and later American Black Journal was in its first season on WTVS, Detroit's Public Television station. It was then known as CPT - which stood for Colored People's Time - an edgy double entendre that took a racial stereotype and turned it back on itself as a claim of empowerment.

Emerging just a year after the devastating riot of 1967 and less than six months after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., CPT combined a militant sense of political awareness with celebration of African American culture. From the opening montage of jump-cut visual images from black America, played over dissonant, fast-paced jazz, the program is punctuated by music. And though it includes soft features - such as announcements of community events, fashion segments, celebrity news and the "together sister of the week" - it also tackles important local issues, such as community control of public schools and charges of discrimination and brutality against city police.

The program opens with Hal McKinney's jazz band performing "Freedom Jazz Dance," featuring Hal and Gwen McKinney on vocals. Although they are not individually credited, it appears that at least two prominent jazz musicians, trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and saxophonist Thomas "Beans" Bowles, are members of McKinney's band. The show's entertainment segments also include a performances by the International Gospel Choir from Ecorse, soul singer Kim Weston, singer-guitarist Bill Murphy, and an appearance by comedian and mimic George Kirby. A "Free Your Mind" skit also provides a satiric take on the need for African Americans to embrace their own identity in a white-dominated society.

The centerpiece of the program, however, is a nearly 15-minute segment called "The Making of a Rioter," which explores the connection between the inadequacies of Detroit's public school system and the violence that had shaken the city during the July 1967 riot. The segment features interviews with students as well as members of - and the faculty advisor to - the Black Student Association that had been formed at Northeastern High School in Detroit. The students are critical of what they consider racism on the part of some of their teachers and weaknesses in the curriculum that leave them unprepared for meaningful jobs or college.

With its mix of news, music, entertainment and public affairs coverage, this show offers a window on the broad range of concerns and interests among African Americans in Detroit in the late 1960s, a time when African American social, political and cultural awareness was intensifying in Detroit and across the nation.