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Basic Black; Family Memories


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Basic Black
Family Memories
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

BASIC BLACK explores the joys and challenges facing black families today through three contemporary plays: John Henry Redwood’s The Old Settler, August Wilson’s Jitney, and Emily Mann’s Having Our Say. Excerpts from the plays, conversations with the playwrights, actors, and directors, and commentary by Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Alvin Poussaint shed light on the family themes in these works.

In the Off-Broadway play The Old Settler, playwright John Henry Redwood weaves the tale of his relatives who migrated from North Carolina to New York. As a boy growing up in Harlem during World War II, Redwood absorbed their stories. In The Old Settler, he recalls his relatives’ love for collard greens and big band sounds and their reverence for a time when young men tipped their hats to young women and when "shoot" was the closest one came to swearing in polite company.

August Wilson’s acclaimed Jitney is set among unlicensed cab drivers in Pittsburgh, the playwright’s hometown. At the center of Jitney is the relationship between one of the drivers and his estranged son who has just been released from a prison sentence and returns to begin his life—and his relationship with his father—again.

Emily Mann’s Having Our Say draws on the memoirs of the Delany sisters. The play tells the story of how the sisters rely on their education, courage, and faith to see them through the turmoil of the Reconstruction and the evils of Jim Crow. They live long enough to make their marks on the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights movement and to create an inspiring glimpse of American history.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Chicago: “Basic Black; Family Memories,” 03/04/1999, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 14, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8F65B3BCFB4A412AB917D9A6DF65A6E4.
MLA: “Basic Black; Family Memories.” 03/04/1999. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 14, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8F65B3BCFB4A412AB917D9A6DF65A6E4>.
APA: Basic Black; Family Memories. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8F65B3BCFB4A412AB917D9A6DF65A6E4
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