NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 147

By 1969 there was a significant increase in black public affairs television programs with more than 20 local shows across the country. Years later, Greaves would boast that “Black Journal was the flagship… It stimulated localities throughout the country to begin to seriously thing about having their own local shows.” Many of these programs used the magazine or talk-show format to highlight black community concerns. In New York City alone, programs on public television included Inside Bed-Stuy, and Where It’s At, while the local abc affiliate launched Like It Is hosted by black journalist Gil Noble. There were also novel approaches, such as Job Man Caravan on South Carolina public television, which helped match black job seekers with employment. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE At the end of Black Journal’s first year, the program was nominated for an Emmy Award. However the anniversary was launched with re-runs, packaged as “best of ” segments from the year, rather than new episodes. After the first installment, Greaves announced on the air that he faced as much as an 80 percent budget cut that would place severe constraints on the show’s reporting and filmmaking capabilities. Jack Gould, wrote in the New York Times that the show, once conceived as a balm to heal racial strife, faced abandonment. “In a nation beset by so much racial tension, such a development should not be allowed to happen,” Gould complained. “‘Black Journal’ provides the road to true understanding, and if a corporation wanted to do its share in resolving a national problem, Mr. Greaves and his colleagues deserve every monetary consideration…” 145 Financial instability was a constant challenge for Black Journal’s leadership. For the first four months of programming — June through September 1968 — the Ford Foundation provided $100,000 per episode. Funding from the new Corporation for Public Broadcasting kept things rolling through December 1968. Next the network and the show’s producers sought corporate underwriting. Coca Cola and Polaroid each contributed monies for the first three months of 1969 and net stepped in with enough support to get through June, the end of the first program year. Meanwhile, Black Journal crews continued to develop ambitious content. A two-part film broadcast in the Spring explored the lives of African Americans in southern cities like Atlanta and New Orleans. The program investigated how black voters struggled to get their candidates into office and the persistent violence and economic intimidation they encountered, and featured a speech by Fanny Lou Hammer as she announced her intention to challenge Senator John Eastland for his seat. Stories offered diverse perspectives, ranging from the health needs among black Southerners, such as poor nutrition, and the rich cultural production of the region in dance, visual arts, and jazz. The episodes on the South “bordered on the poetic,” said one reviewer, who warned that the program’s grants were about to expire. The black television landscape grew at a rapid pace. Just a month after Black Journal went on the air wnet launched the variety show Soul! with For