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Basic Black; Civil Rights: Three History Making African Americans


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Basic Black
Civil Rights: Three History Making African Americans
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

Randall Robinson, Myrlie Evers-Williams, John Lewis On Thursday, April 8, BASIC BLACK profiles three individuals whose passion and dedication have changed the course of history.

Randall Robinson’s commitment to justice for people of color around the world has been unswerving, although at times it has put his life in danger. TransAfrica, the organization that he founded and leads, lobbies lawmakers and the president to provide a voice for the human rights of people in third world countries and on the African continent. He talks to BASIC BLACK about his organization’s role in the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in South Africa and his 27-day hunger strike in defense of Haitian refugees. "The kind of commitment you make without office, without title, without statutory power can often produce enormous results in the world if you believe and you work tirelessly for an objective," he says.

Next, BASIC BLACK’s Darren Duarte talks to Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers and former chairperson of the NAACP. Evers-Williams speaks candidly about her relationship with Medgar, his slaying at their front door in June 1963, and the two all-white juries that failed to convict Byron De La Beckwith of the killing. In 1994, a re-trial finally put De La Beckwith behind bars, and shortly after, the story was told in the film Ghosts of Mississippi. Evers-Williams has written a book—Watch Me Fly—and is now founding the Medgar Evers Institute to train young leaders. "I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I can look at all these things one would categorize as negative and see them…as opportunities to grow," she says.

Finally, Duarte talks to Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who launched the Civil Rights movement’s pivotal lunch counter sit-ins. Like Evers-Williams and Robinson, Lewis grew up in the segregated South. As a child dreaming of becoming a minister, he assembled the family’s chickens for sermons in the barn. As a young man, he was mentored by another minister—Martin Luther King, Jr.—and became one of the unsung heroes in the Civil Rights movement. Lewis was severely beaten after he led the march from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote. John Lewis talks to BASIC BLACK about his life then and now; about why he continues to give President Clinton his unflagging support and how he’s still able to be a force for change.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Chicago: “Basic Black; Civil Rights: Three History Making African Americans,” 04/08/1999, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed January 20, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_BE97953AD90F459AA6E2AD3786ABE967.
MLA: “Basic Black; Civil Rights: Three History Making African Americans.” 04/08/1999. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. January 20, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_BE97953AD90F459AA6E2AD3786ABE967>.
APA: Basic Black; Civil Rights: Three History Making African Americans. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_BE97953AD90F459AA6E2AD3786ABE967
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