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Basic Black; MLK ( Martin Luther King ) 30 Years


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Basic Black
MLK ( Martin Luther King ) 30 Years
Program Number


Series Description

THe series was formerly known as Say Brother. Series title change as of 1/8/1998. This series is black produced and is one of public television's longest-running series that is rooted in and reflects the culture, concerns, achievements and history of people of African descent. Also includes controversial issues, African American artists, and events of special interest to the African American community.

Series release date: 1/8/1998

Program Description

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., BASIC BLACK profiles three Bostonians—a bus driver, a policeman, and a teacher—to show how King’s legacy lives on.

MBTA bus driver Denise Palmer, Sergeant Harold White of the Boston Police, and middle school teacher Michelle Spratling are not civil rights activists. Yet each of them tell BASIC BLACK how the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. touches their everyday lives.

Denise Palmer, mother of three and a bus driver for the MBTA, recalls the contributions of another young woman on a bus—Rosa Parks, whose refusal to sit in the back of the bus sparked the King-led bus boycott that provided the seed of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. As she navigates the choppy waters of the MBTA , Palmer embraces King’s teachings and remembers that thanks to his legacy, she can sit anywhere on the bus, including the driver’s seat.

Sergeant Harold White has been nationally recognized for his community work as a Boston Police officer. Yet he acknowledges that the image of the police among African Americans is not always viewed positively. White tells BASIC BLACK how the teachings of King have helped him combat the sometimes negative perception of police in Boston’s diverse communities.

As a teacher at the Martin Luther King Middle School in Roxbury, Michelle Spratling is immersed in King’s legacy and teachings as she tries to pass them on to her students every day. His lessons of non-violence are important to her as she helps her young students learn to resolve conflict. She talks to BASIC BLACK about the challenge of teaching the importance of the Civil Rights Movement to a generation of students who never saw the struggle first-hand.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Chicago: “Basic Black; MLK ( Martin Luther King ) 30 Years,” 04/02/1998, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 11, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_1AC611B702054769B82553728592972F.
MLA: “Basic Black; MLK ( Martin Luther King ) 30 Years.” 04/02/1998. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 11, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_1AC611B702054769B82553728592972F>.
APA: Basic Black; MLK ( Martin Luther King ) 30 Years. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_1AC611B702054769B82553728592972F
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