Entertainment: Seven Boundary-Breaking Black TV Shows on USA Television

Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford in ‘The Jeffersons,’ -CBS via Getty Images

7 Boundary-Breaking Black TV Shows – History.com

These shows helped broaden the range of African American experiences portrayed on television

African Americans have appeared on television as long as the medium has been around. In fact, the first Black person on TV may have been Broadway star Ethel Waters, who hosted a one-off variety show on NBC on June 14, 1939, when television was still being developed. The medium evolved over the next decade as TVs became a household fixture, but roles for Black actors did not, with most being relegated to playing servants or providing comic relief.     

Waters herself would make history in 1950 as the first African American to star in a show, Beulah, a sitcom about a maid serving a bungling white family, who got her employers out of scrapes in every episode. But the show, like its contemporary, Amos and Andy, relied heavily on caricatures of Black characters for laughs. Waters soon left the show, marking the beginning of a struggle to have Black lives and experiences portrayed in significant and accurate ways.

Since then, actors, producers and writers have created and starred in shows that pushed boundaries and broke barriers. Many shows also reflected what was going on in the country at large, from the civil rights era to the election of President Barack Obama, and beyond. Below are seven shows that helped move the needle in offering more rounded portrayals of African Americans and their experiences.

Here are the seven shows featured here:-  https://www.history.com/news/black-tv-shows-culture

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  • Kman  On 02/05/2021 at 1:12 pm

    Where is Sanford and Son in this article?

  • wally n  On 02/05/2021 at 1:25 pm

    For me one of the most brilliant and entertaining was Godfrey Cambridge, because I think that if your parents were Guyanese so are you. He owns the phrase “Second place is not good enough for Guyanese” Of course that was then….TODAY???


  • wally n  On 02/05/2021 at 1:41 pm

    …and a look at William Buckley and Godfrey Cambridge, interview gives a peep into his great mind (Youtube)

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