In the late 1960’s/early 1970s, TV witnessed an explosion of Black Produced Public Affairs programs both nationally and locally throughout the U.S. – in an effort to deal with the issue of the lack of the Black presence in American TV as well as the lack of black employees in the Entertainment business, shows were proposed and run, and featured a wide array of talent from within the Black community.
One of those shows which ran locally in New York via WNBC-TV was Positively Black. Like many of the shows during this period, it featured Black artists, writers, actors, musicians, sports figures and activists. They also ran features pertaining to life in the Black community in the form of news items and cultural goings-on. Positively Black was hosted by Dr. Eugene Callender, who was President of the New York Urban Coalition with Joan Harris as his co-host.
This episode, originally aired on September 6, 1970 features Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who is also interviewed regarding his then-recent organizing of a protest which shut down the Merv Griffin Show in the middle of taping. Kirk also talks about Black musicians, along with Lee Morgan, in discussing the current state of affairs with Jazz in America.
How many episodes were part of the Positively Black series isn’t known. How many of them have survived is also not known – for a local NBC station, it’s really not clear if any were kept by the station or. like so many videotapes of the period, erased or tossed.
Whatever the fate was with the series, the fact that the show had a lot of musicians performing live certainly puts it in historic territory. I don’t know if this Kirk session was saved or if it’s been reissued in any form.
Suffice to say, any live Rahsaan Roland Kirk is an event – to have the added bonus of an interview, just makes it all that much better.
Enjoy – and let me know if you’ve seen any episodes on video floating around – I’m curious if any survived.