NET Journal
Episode Number
Episode Number
Color Us Black. Part 1
Producing Organization
National Educational Television and Radio Center
Contributing Organization
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
This program is a study of the conflict between militant black students and what they claim is a traditional, bourgeois-oriented administration at Howard University in Washington, D.C. it charts the nature of the students' complaints against an "irrelevant" education and culminates with the "sleep-in" that closed down the University March 21-24. The program offers the students a rare opportunity to express themselves in creative terms. A film, made by members of the drama department with the advice and facilities of NET, is contained here. The film dramatizes their complaints against the university: Creatively, they feel more involvement with it than with the full-dress Elizabethan plays staged by the drama department; and substantively it details the feelings and attitudes of the black student at Howard. Directed by Howard student Ben Land, the film portrays a Negro boy in the process of defining his world and circumscribing his anger through his relationship with two girls - one black, one white. In a bedroom scene with the white girl, he is plagued by his black consciousness, expressed in the words of Black Power advocate Ron Karenga. The girl, meanwhile, visualizes the idyll of being with him in an open field. Ultimately, the boy returns to the other girl, with whom he is "becoming a person after 400 years" of enslavement. Prior to the film's presentation, we see it being rehearsed in a studio, at a smoke-shrouded train station, and on a freezing hill. At its conclusion, the actors and director discuss with NET producer Dick McCutchen their roles, their true feelings, and their parent's probable reactions. The crisis at Howard is also conveyed in documentary form, as the student frustration builds towards the takeover of the administration building. A scene with President James M. Nabrit, Jr., indicates that chasm separating student goals and university purpose. "There's nothing as strong as an idea whose time has come, and nothing as weak as an idea whose time has passed," explains Mike Harris, an articulate student who becomes a major figure in the documentary. Harris contends that he is "a moderate," since "I'll still talk." Placing the students' demands on a national scale, he calls the work of Stokely Carmichael "the last peaceful attempt to make things come around." Specifically, Harris says, "we want Howard to show us who we are," especially in the context of their blackness. A source of special complaint to the Howard student is the firing of such professors as Nathan Hare, whose liberality was the apparent reason for his dismissal. Hare, seen here in a professional boxing match subsequent to his firing, explains that man must choose between "making his history and having his history make him." Also appearing on the program are Dr. Kenneth Clark, professor of psychology, City College of New York; Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land; and Mrs. E. Franklin Frazier, whose late husband wrote the classic study of ?The Black Bourgeoisie. NET Journal: Color Us Black is a production of National Educational Television. Produced, written, and narrated by Richard McCutchen, who has produced Where is Prejudice? and The Smoking Spiral for NET. This aired as NET Journal episode 186 on May 6, 1968 and as NET Journal episode 287 on September 14, 1970. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Broadcast Date
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
Published Work: This work was offered for sale and/or rent in 1972.
Media type
Moving Image
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Associate Producer: Potter, Lou
Director: Land, Ben
Editor: Carter, John
Narrator: McCutcheon, Dick
Producer: McCutchen, Dick
Producing Organization: National Educational Television and Radio Center
Speaker: Nabrit, James M., Jr.
Speaker: Brown, Claude
Speaker: Frazier, E. Franklin
Speaker: Clark, Kenneth B.
Speaker: Harris, Mike
Writer: McCutchen, Dick
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2004575-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 2 inch videotape
Generation: Master
Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive
Identifier: [request film based on title] (Indiana University)
Format: 16mm film
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Chicago: “NET Journal; Color Us Black. Part 1,” 1970-09-14, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “NET Journal; Color Us Black. Part 1.” 1970-09-14. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: NET Journal; Color Us Black. Part 1. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from