*”From the creative side to making decisions in the front office, we still got a long way to go.”
Entertainment maestro, Quincy Jones, shares his experiences at the Paley Center’s Hollywood Tribute to African-Americans in Television, in Beverly Hills.
“Trust me, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,” shared Jones while being honored for this musical contributions in TV. “We live in a world were often we want to embark in a career in entertainment industry. It takes a lot of courage.”
The Paley Center for Media saluted BETs 35th anniversary, commemorated the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and television’s role as a pivotal platform for African Americans.
EUR: How does television help address important issues, break down barriers and aid social change?
Ava DuVernay: Television is amplifying what’s happening in the world, so often voices that are not controlling media, are lost in the story. The point of view of the people who are marginalized and on the edges, is not amplified. In the moments that they are, you really see changes and it’s what we are celebrating tonight.
Tyra Banks: TV is a mass media. There are two or more TVs in one house. It’s a medium to get to, trillions of people. It’s one person speaking to trillions. It’s powerful!
Joe Morton: I’m working on a two hour special, about the voting acts right and voting suppression. It is extremely important. The only presidential candidate who has mentioned it is, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, when she talked about what happened in Alabama last week. It’s extremely important for us to get back into that because in 2013 the supreme court basically called the voting rights act, racial entitlement. Which is saying, ‘since we helped you out, you can’t get used to the fact that we’re not going to help you anymore.’ The court, which is a very conservative court, basically said, ‘racism is over, we don’t need the voting rights act anymore. There is no reason for those states to come to Washington D.C. to get approval, if they want to change voting laws.’ In turn, creating coding I.D., the voting registration is now shorter – in many communities you can’t vote on a Sunday, for most black communities you go to church in the morning and vote in the afternoon. All of these things are gone. That’s why the voting rights act is very important for us to keep in mind.
S. Epatha Merkerson: TV is at its best, as a teacher. I agree that it is good to be entertain. I like dipole shows because when you sit down and get up an hour later, you’ve picked up some knowledge. Television reaches so many people. It’s important we have this dialogue. There are so many things still going on in our community. Look what’s happening in Chicago…It’s time for us to have another BIG look and BIG conversation. Also, it’s not always about national elections, the most important elections are the ones taking place where you live. The people who are going to govern your schools and county. We always focus on what happens in the presidential elections. State and city elections are equally, if not more important, because they immediately affect you. Having television, commercials, and discourse about civil rights is really important.
Courtney Kemp Agboh: The great thing about television is that it educates passively. You can just sit there and the knowledge will come. You’ll ignore it and the knowledge will come anyway. Also, the injustice that was done to African Americans in was very visible with the television camera. In that era, people didn’t know how bad it was, until they saw it on TV.
Ice-T: I didn’t know that’s what we’re celebrating. I thought we were just celebrating black people in television. TV is powerful, it can create stereotypes whether they’re good or bad. TV has started to evolve, blacks are starting to get more diversified roles. “Law and Order,” is one of the shows, that is known for that…We break the law, but then we are also the judge and the attorney. I try to tell people, ‘black people’s rights are not much different from women’s rights. We don’t want to be special, we just want things to be fair.’ I’m not saying every black role has to be positive, but let’s balance it out. Dick Wolf has done that with all of his shows, and that’s why everyone loves his shows. You can’t say “Law and Order” is a white or black show, or any other kind of show, it’s a show.
Yaya DaCosta: Television reaches a wider audience than anything else. It’s a very powerful tool. I love doing theater, but you only reach a handful of people. I love doing film, but people go less and less to the movie theater, but people are still turning on their TVs every day. TV influences society and we can see it happening every day in both positive and negative ways.
The Paley Center for Media is the leading non-profit cultural institution showcasing the importance and impact of media’s role in our society. The tribute highlighted the deserving accomplishments and illustrated the enormous impact of African Americans across every genre of television, from news/talk and music to sports, drama, and comedy. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Paley Center’s programs and its ongoing efforts to expand and preserve the Paley Archive, including an African American collection chronicling seven decades of television content.