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VH1 Celebrates Black History

Published January 31, 2005 in TELEVISION
By Bubba Craner | Images property of respective holders,
Bowfinger Eddie Murphy in Bowfinger
In recognition of Black History Month, VH1 wastes no time to celebrate some of the most important figures in late twentieth century Black American entertainment.

VHI Black History Month


'Black In The 80's' is a three part series focusing on the importance and popularity of black entertainment in the 1980's as well as black culture. The series begins on Feb. 1, 2005 at 9:00 pm (PST), and continues through the following two days at the same time.

This three part series will expand on topics dealing with blacks on TV and how they were represented, blacks in film and how they dealt with their common stereotypical roles and how they overcame them, and black music and the effect it had on our society-why was it revolutionary and did anyone see it for what it was or was it just something they did that couldn't be ignored by the masses. Each part will be centered of one of these issues.

Part one, which airs on Tuesday Feb. 1, 2005 at 9:00 pm (PST), is aptly titled "Color TV" and will be covering the success of some of the great black TV stars in the eighties and how their success was achieved. Starting at the beginning of the decade, blacks held only specific and limited roles on the television screen, but through small progress people like Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy and Oprah Winfrey were able to become huge stars.

From VH1's website, Topics Covered in this episode:

  • The Jefferson's
  • Benson's - Robert Guillaume
  • Gimme a Break - Nell Carter
  • Mr. T
  • Diff'rent Strokes - Gary Coleman
  • Webster - Emmanuel Lewis
  • The Cosby Show - Bill Cosby
  • A Different World - Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Dawnn Lewis, Cree Summer, Debbie Allen, Glyn Turman
  • Bryant Gumble, first African American national morning news anchor
  • Oprah
  • Arsenio Hall & the Arsenio Hall Show
  • BET - Donnie Simpson
  • Frank's Place - Tim Reid
  • The Women of Brewster Place - Oprah, Jackee, Robin Givens
  • 227
  • 80's African American Celebs in advertising: Mean Joe Green, Coke ... Michael Jordan, Nike ... Whitney Houston, Coke ... Lionel Ritchie, Pepsi ... Bo Jackson, Nike ... Tina Turner, Pepsi ... Emmanuel Lewis, Burger King.


  • Part two of this three part series, which airs on Wednesday Feb. 2, 2005 at 9:00 pm (PST), will focus on black music in the eighties and is titled, Def Jams. Black music in the eighties saw as much of a change to it as did it see at the turn of the century with the birth of America's classical music, jazz. Artist like Michael Jackson and Whitney Huston saw success and fame like no other black music artist had before. Their albums were the hottest in the country and they couldn't find venues big enough to play. And certainly not to forget one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the twentieth century, hip hop music and the culture that has spun from it. The episode will also explore the explosion of rap music and where it came from (Cool DJ Herc and Afrika Bambaata for those who are too eager to wait to find out).


    From VH1's website, Topics covered in the show:

  • Rap music (being underground, trying to become mainstream and delivering a message)
  • Black Pop music
  • Hip Hop (going mainstream, changing culture and influencing fashion)
  • Breakdancing (being featured in Hollywood films, television and commercials)
  • Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"
  • Prince
  • Michael Jackson
  • Lionel Richie
  • Whitney Houston
  • Chaka Khan
  • Gladys Knight
  • Diana Ross
  • Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and "The Message"
  • Russell Simmons
  • Run DMC (and "My Adidas")
  • LL Cool J
  • Beastie Boys
  • Ed Lover and Dr. Dre
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Living Colour (and "Cult of Personality")
  • Beat Street
  • Breakin'
  • Yo! MTV Raps.


  • The third installment of this series focuses on 'Color In Film,' and will air on Thursday Feb. 3,2005. Like 'TV', this episode will dissect the success and significance of blacks in film. We will see the progression from blaxploitation to the success of film icons like Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Denzel Washington and Spike Lee. This episode will attempt to answer the question of whether blacks moved from blaxploitation in cinema to stardom by means of natural progression, or by the commonly associated phrase, "by any means necessary."

    From VH1's website, Topics covered in the show:

    Teen movies from the 80's that never featured any black kids

  • Sixteen Candles - Molly Ringwald
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Matthew Broderick
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High - Forrest Whitaker
  • John Hughes
  • Weird Science - Anthony Michael Hall


  • Hip-Hop Movies

  • Breakin'
  • Beat Street - Grand Master Mellie Mel and Flash and the Furious Five
  • Krush Groove - DMC, Kurtis Blow, Fat Boys and LL Cool J


  • Black women in films and different skin-tones

  • Jennifer Beals
  • Rae Dawn Chong
  • Irene Cara
  • Alfrie Woodard - Cross Creek
  • Whoopi Goldberg - Comic Relief, The Color Purple, Jumpin Jack Flash, Burglar


  • Blaxpotation Era: The 70's

  • Foxy Brown
  • Shaft
  • Superfly


  • Bowfinger Glory blew up Denzel Washington's movie career.
    Sidekick roles

  • 48 Hours - Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy


  • Black Men's Roles

  • Ragtime - Howard Rollins
  • An Officer & A Gentleman - Louis Gossett Jr.
  • Street Smart - Morgan Freeman
  • A Soldier's Story - Charles Fuller, Denzel Washington, Robert Townsend
  • Glory - Denzel


  • Black Directors, Producers and Writers

  • The Color Purple - Steven Spielberg, Margaret Avery, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, and Oprah Winfrey
  • Spike Lee - She's Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing (Rosie Perez, Martin Lawrence, Samuel L. Jackson)


  • Black Comedians

  • Richard Pryor
  • Eddie Murphy - Coming To America


  • New Black Filmmakers

  • Robert Townsend - Hollywood Shuffle
  • Keenen Ivory Wayans - Hollywood Shuffle, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (Chris Rock)
  • John Singleton
  • The Hughes Brothers
  • Charles Stone
  • Matty Rich.


  • This should be a most proud way to kick of the celebration of black America in 2005's Black History Month.

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    Bubba Craner
    Sources: Images property of respective holders,
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