Colored People's Time 5: "The Making of a Rioter"

Colored People's Time 5: "The Making of a Rioter" (October 23, 1968)

See other episodes with similar themes and topics

Themes: Urban Challenges | Leadership | Education and Families | Poverty, Progress, and the Rise of African-American Businesses and Professionals |



Summary: This segment examines public education in Detroit. Highlighting the unsafe infrastructures, lack of adequate resources, and substandard curriculum inner city youth grappled with everyday. The staff reporters interviews students at Northeastern High School to gain insight into their thoughts about the situation. The interview reveals the students' frustration, anger and disillusionment with a system that has all but forgotten them. The students have staged a walkout and formed a Black Student organization to address their concerns.

In addition they present a 13-point plan that outlines that changes they would like to see. Tony Brown's commentary cunningly points out that unless systematic changes are made in the education system the society as a whole will be responsible for the "making of a rioter." Thus the creative and intellectual energy these young people have can either be directed toward strengthening the society or will erupt in violent behavior.

Original Concept and Purpose

The Detroit Public Television show Colored People's Time (CPT) first aired in 1968 as the first WTVS show programmed for black audiences. The show followed Black Journal, a nationally syndicated program funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The creators of CPT envisioned an entertaining and educational news magazine designed for television. The show contained poignant discussion concerning economic, political and social conditions facing black Americans, featured local artists; and served as a clearinghouse for community news.


One of the primary objectives of the show was to provide an alternative to the objectification and negative imagery of blacks on television. In the original funding proposal the show's creators noted, "blacks are either invisible or stereotyped on TV, and their actions and statements are continually misunderstood and misinterpreted. The program will further attempt to correct these distortions by emphasizing the positive aspects of black and other ethnic cultures, and by allowing their entertainers to conceive and direct their own project and performers."

From the beginning, the show modeled the principles of corporative economics and self-sufficiency. The creators were not only concerned about raising social consciousness but also envisioned a show that would provide economic and employment opportunities for black workers and a place were local black artists could showcase their talent. The show's creators knew that managing the intricacies of the show was the only way that they could ensure authentic representation of black culture.


Images of positive Black people were important on two fronts: first to counter negative stereotypes mainstream society had of Blacks; and second to instill pride and cultural appreciation among Black Americans who had internalized racist ideologies about their beauty and self worth. Thus the shows importance extended farther than community building on the local and national level but also sought to nurture a positive racial identity for Black Americans.

Show objectives:
--To show the black community as it really is, using the language of the black community.
--To provide a voice for black groups in the community that would not otherwise be heard.
--To communicate a wide variety of valuable, practical information to disadvantaged persons.
--To provided a balanced view and interpretation of current news events, especially as they relate to inner-city viewers.
--To inform inner-city residents and the larger community of historical and contemporary contributions of indigenous minority groups.
--To create an atmosphere in which the black community could freely air its hopes, protests, aspirations and goals.
--To provide workshop opportunities in media production for black persons.