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Blacks on Television: Amos & Andy Essay

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Portrayal of African Americans on television is frequently a controversial topic. Throughout its rather brief history, television, in its programming, has skewed predominantly white, (Pringozy, 2007). This was clearer in the 1950s and early 1960s, and it even remained true throughout the 1970s, when television shows with mainly all African American casts became hits, (Strausbaugh, 2006). The success of The Cosby Show in the 1980s helped to improve race relations somewhat, or at least on television, (McNeil, 1996). Still, controversy continued, and still does to this day, as to which shows present negative stereotypes of African Americans and which ones do not, (Strausbaugh, 2006). Therefore, when talking about the history of African Americans on television, it is best to begin with the show that is widely considered to be the epitome of negative stereotypes of African Americans on television: The Amos and Andy Show, (McNeil, 1996). This paper will examine the portrayal of African Americans through two shows from two generations and the impacts both shows had on Black America; The Amos and Andy Show (1928) and The Cosby Show (1984).
The Amos and Andy Show began life as a radio show in 1928, (Rice, 2009). Two white dialecticians, Freeman Grosden and Charles Correll created the show, (Rice, 2009). Set in Harlem, The Amos and Andy Show was the story of Amos Jones (voiced by Gosden) and Andrew H. Brown (voiced by Correll), (Rice, 2009). The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) reportedly paid Gosden and Correll one million dollars each in exchange for the rights to the show (Rice, 2009), and they planned to make it into a television show. However, Gosden and Correll were both white, and the cast of the television show had to...


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... come full circle. If African-American groups, and television executives, are not careful, everything old may be new again.



Bibliography
1. McNeil, Alex. Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present, 4th Edition. New York, New York. 1996. Penguin Group Inc. Print.
2. Pickering, Michael. Blackface Minstrely in Britain. Burlington, New York. 2008. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. Print.
3. Prigozy, Ruth, and Raubicheck Walter. Going My Way: Bing Crosby and American Culture. Rochester, New York , 2007. University of Rochester Press. Print.
4. Rice, T.D. Jim Crow, American: Selected Songs and Plays. London, England. 2009. The Belknap press of Harvard University Press. Print.
5. Strausbaugh, John. Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture. New York, New York, 2006. Penguin Group Inc. Print.


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