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Basic Black; 19th Century Black Merchant


19th Century Farmer

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Basic Black
19th Century Black Merchant
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

Local merchants who played a significant role in the abolition movement.

With archival photographs and artwork, interviews with historians, and discussions with the descendents of prominent black Bostonians, BASIC BLACK shows viewers a world rarely seen in history books. Judge Julian Houston tells BASIC BLACK how the African American community in Boston in the 1800s was influential in politics, in the abolitionist movement, and in the fight to desegregate Massachusetts schools. Mario Valdes, a researcher, brings Steven Ellis to the Museum of Fine Arts to show him a portrait of his great-great grandmother, Elizabeth. Ellis is a descendent of Samuel Copeland, a wealthy black merchant who ran a successful used clothing store near Haymarket. Not only did Copeland marry a white woman—an Irish immigrant—his family had several white English and Irish servants.

BASIC BLACK also interviews Franklin A. Dorman, author of Twenty Families of Color in Massachusetts, and Lena Reddick, descendent of one of those families. Reddick’s ancestor, John T. Hilton, was the most prominent and influential black abolitionist of his era and was close friends with abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Reddick talks about her pride in learning of her family’s prominent place in Boston history and in sharing that history with her daughter.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Race and Ethnicity
Social Issues
Chicago: “Basic Black; 19th Century Black Merchant,” 02/25/1999, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed January 24, 2019, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F06304F87CC14E40AAB5BBD62D5B2520.
MLA: “Basic Black; 19th Century Black Merchant.” 02/25/1999. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. January 24, 2019. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F06304F87CC14E40AAB5BBD62D5B2520>.
APA: Basic Black; 19th Century Black Merchant. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F06304F87CC14E40AAB5BBD62D5B2520
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