Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

“Good Times” ahead

January 17, 2011 Comments off

By Kyle Huneycutt, A&E Editor

The Civil Rights movement has had an incredible impact on virtually every aspect of the entertainment industry including music, movies, books and much more; but one of the best ways to actually see and understand the transition that African Americans experienced throughout this movement is by observing the iconic television series that aired throughout this time period and revolved around the lives of African American families for the first time in history.

The Civil Rights movement generally began in the 1950s, but the first time viewers at home watched a television show with an all African American cast did not occur until the late 1960s. These are shows that, today, any family is familiar with and are simply another aspect of our society’s culture; however, when they originally aired, these shows represented the changing times taking place in America.

Some of television’s earliest examples include the premiere of “Julia” in 1968, which the first show to depict an African American woman in a role other than a servant, or Fred and Lamont Sanford and their dubious money-making schemes in “Sanford and Son,” broadcasted in 1972.

One of the earliest TV series to air that concentrates on the fictional home life of an African American family, also serves as a reflection of the effects the Civil Rights movement. “Good Times” originally aired in 1974, and focuses on the struggles and obstacles of the Evans family as they try to get by while living in the infamous and impoverished projects of Chicago. Despite having a limited income, the Evans represented the eventual benefits that result from determination, perseverance and the importance of sticking together through hard times.

Soon after “Good Times,” a new show premiered in 1975 that would be a turning point for television sitcoms. “The Jeffersons,” which lasted for 11 seasons, holds the record for being the longest running TV show with a predominately black cast. Where the Evans had been a family struggling to make ends meet, the Jeffersons were an upper-middle class family not unlike any other family in America.

The main difference between “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons” is that “Good Times” was about a black family trying to live their lives. “The Jeffersons” was more about a family living their lives.

The progressive pattern continues with the premiere of “The Cosby Show” in 1984. The show is about an affluent family living in Brooklyn. The famous comedian Bill Cosby portrays obstetrician Cliff Huxtable who is married to attorney Clair Huxtable, resulting in a very lucrative lifestyle.

Unlike its predecessors, “The Cosby Show” barely mentions any issues of race, rather focusing on comedic material and some more serious issues including teen pregnancy, dyslexia and the obstacles that come with raising a family. Many more shows have followed “The Cosby Show” into the nineties such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Family Matters” and many more continue to surface in the 21 century with no particular emphasis on race such as “Lincoln Heights” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”

Now, the later shows focus more on entertainment, but through the television series like “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons” the bar was set for a brighter future in the entertainment industry.

UPDATE1 (11:18 a.m.) — Added hyperlink to “Julia” from Museum of Broadcast Education.

YHC: from discriminatory to diverse

January 17, 2011 Comments off

By Ali Neese, Staff Writer

This 1966 copy of the Enotah Echoes discusses campus and national events. Photo by Kathleen Layton

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, our nation has the chance to reflect on its history in regards to the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the changes that have occurred since then. The same holds true for Young Harris College’s students and faculty members. The Civil Rights Movement was a turbulent time in America and many people had strong opinions on the subject, and YHC students were not an exception.

As a southern state, Georgia had a difficult time dealing with Civil Rights, along with the issue of integration. Several copies of the Enotah Echoes newspaper that were printed during those years reflected this ongoing conflict.

While it is safe to say that Young Harris College has come a long way in terms of diversity and acceptance since the time of Martin Luther King, there was a time in the college’s history when people were not so accepting.

An article of the Enotah Echoes printed on January 16, 1961, entitled “Crisis in the South” by YHC student John Ard talks about his concern on the topic of integration. He mentions the popularity of passive resistance by African Americans in their effort to protest “unjust civil laws” and that Martin Luther King was in favor of this type of resistance. His beliefs were typical of many Southerners in that he was concerned about the changes that were taking place and he even goes so far as to say that integration is one of the “greatest threats that the South has been confronted with since the Civil War.”

In the next issue of the Enotah Echoes the same student wrote an article called “Integration at Georgia” in which he details the chaos that ensued when two African Americans joined the University of Georgia’s student body. He stated that while he did not condone the persecution of the African American race, he was a strong believer in “equal but separate facilities.”

He stated that “their schools, the churches and other organizations should be equal to the whites, but not the same as the whites.”

This narrow view might lead one to believe that there was absolutely no diversity on YHC’s campus during those days, but this simply is not true. In fact, in the ’50s and ’60s Young Harris College had foreign exchange students from different parts of Asia, the Middle East and Cuba. The YHC family welcomed them and celebrated their presence at the college, but unfortunately the drama unfolding in the South blinded many to their opportunity to truly increase the campus’ diversity.

What is probably the most shocking about YHC and the Civil Rights Movement is that literally a week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, that issue of the Enotah Echoes made absolutely no mention of his death or anything concerning the events leading up to it. Instead, they covered the upcoming classes for summer school, the recent play and who made the Dean’s List.

While YHC, along with the rest of the South, had trouble accepting integration initially, it is evident that this is no longer the case. According to Clint Hobbs, Vice President for Enrollment Management, in 2008 the ethnic percentage at the college was 4.5% and consisted mainly of Hispanic and African American students. Fast forward to this year and the ethnic percentage is at an “all time high” with 15.4% of the students being Hispanic and African American.

Hobbs stated that it was a major goal of the college to increase diversity on the campus and it is something that YHC will continue to better itself on. He says that the college embraces all students and does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of its past.

Texas Western v. Kentucky, a win for civil rights

January 17, 2011 Comments off

By Ethan Burch, Sports Editor

Referred to my many as “the game,” this match-up was thought to have changed college basketball forever. What could be so special about one game that would set it above the rest in the minds of sports fans, though?

The game being referred to is the 1966 NCAA Championship game that took place in College Park, MD between Texas Western University and the University of Kentucky on March 19, 1966. However, the impact of this game goes beyond Texas Western’s National Championship win, though.

Texas Western entered the game with a starting line-up consisting of 5 black players, while the starting line-up of Kentucky featured 5 white players. Between this move, which many considered to be a bold one by Texas Western Men’s Basketball Head Coach Don Haskins, the small size of Texas Western in comparison to Kentucky and the powerhouse of a program that Kentucky had built with 4 NCAA titles by 1966, all odds were against Texas Western.

If you have seen the film Glory Road, which depicts the story of Coach Don Haskins on their journey to the championship game, then you know where this story is going and the implications that were faced by Texas Western for starting 5 black players.

Though this was not the first time that a black player had participated in an NCAA Championship, it was the first time that a squad had an all-black starting line-up.

Not only was this a factor that many held against Texas Western going into the game, but Kentucky was the front runner in all of college basketball with four at the time.

Kentucky was led by Head Coach Adolph Rupp and players such as Pat Riley and Louie Dampier. For those unfamiliar with those names, Adolph Rupp is the coach for which Kentucky’s basketball arena is now named, and Pat Riley would go on to coach in and win an NBA championship with the Miami Heat.

The squad of Texas Western, now known as Texas El-Paso, featured names such as Bobby Joe Hill, David “Big Daddy D” Lattin, Harry Flourney and Nevil Shed. Many stereotypes of black players led fans to believe that all black players were incapable of running an offense correctly; this would eventually lead to a Texas Western meltdown in the championship game. All signs pointed to Kentucky as the pre-game favorite heading into the championship game.

These predictions proved to be untrue, as Texas Western found ways to rotate the ball a number of times to find open looks on the offensive end.

The dramatic journey for the Texas Western squad would end in victorious fashion; and as 5’10 guard Bobby Joe Hill scored 20 points, this paced the Miners to a 72-65 championship victory over Rupp and Kentucky.

This game goes beyond the final score, though. Instead, it cleared a path for African-American players in all of basketball to make a name and find victory. It is a story such as this that can be looked back on as we honor the day of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.