Description: TV SHOW, BLACK JOURNAL, WITH HOST LOU HOUSE, COVERAGE OF ISSUES CONCERNING BLACK AUDIENCE Initial Broadcast Date: May 23, 1972 90 minutes – Color Roughly a month before the historic National Black Political Convention in Gary, Black Journal made broadcast history with a 90-minute live special “Is It Too Late?” The program, which aired on PBS February 8, set precedent by bringing together leading black figures representing a variety of thoughts and making them available via a phone-in system for questioning to the national black community. The participants included The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam, not normally accessible to the press, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Imamu Amiri Baraka, and Dick Gregory, among others. “The Making of a Special” documents the development of the special, goes behind the scenes during the broadcast, and attempts to put its significance into perspective. It offers, as well, a definition of “black journalism” as practiced by the WNET series on PBS, the network which is, according to Tony Brown, “the only accessible alternative to the television medium for minorities.” Executive producer Tony Brown had conceived the special as an “instrument” of positive social reform” and as an experiment in the “use of television as a two-way communicative instrument.” Its success may be measured by some 4,000 calls received that night. Countless enthusiastic viewers and callers praised the program for fostering dialogue between the black community and its leaders and among blacks nationally. Rev. Abernathy called it a “step in the right direction” in the “coming together” of black people and pointed to the need in television for more platforms on which leaders could “hammer out” their differences. The program includes excerpts from the special, during which participants heatedly discussed survival in America, answering questions on integration, segregation, politics, self-determination, education, economics and leadership. It then follows them to a press party, overhearing off-camera remarks about the program and the struggle for freedom; Dick Gregory talking about the absurdity of ignoring the alcohol problem while attacking the drug problem; Rev. Albert Cleage giving his definition of “so-called leaders”’ and Tony Brown answering questions from the black press on his approach to broadcast journalism. Cameras also scan production preparation – the control room with director Stan Lathan in command, the phone-in circle with Black Journal’s Alex Exum directing operations, and the implementation of a unique security guard unit composed of the Black Muslims’ Fruit of Islam and New York policemen. In addition to those mentioned above, the following also appeared on “Is It Too Late?,” Howard University President Dr. James Cheek, Rep. Charles Diggs, Dorothy Height (National Council for Negro Women), Vernon Jordan (National Urban League), Dr. John Morsell (NAACP). “Black Journal” is a production of NET Division, Educational Broadcasting Corporation Executive producer: Tony Brown
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