Without any doubt, television programming had taken a turn in the wrong direction for me for a while. Between all of the reality shows, and the lack of quality shows about people of color, I had somewhat shunned television all together, utilizing the DVR to scan and create my own line-up of shows to watch when I did decide to finally sit down and watch the “idiot-box” as my father used to call it.
Most of the shows I recorded were reruns of old shows that, to me, showed people of color in a positive light such as “The Cosby Show”, “Different World”, “Living Single”, “Good Times”, “The Jefferson’s” “Martin”, and a variety of African American movies from the 70’s or 80’s and early 90’s. I suppose that’s what I love most about TV ONE, because I have the opportunity to look at shows that depict “us” period. Main stream programming seems to only cater to a non-people of color audience, and, I do not consider myself to be a prejudice person — but let’s face it, America is a melting pot, and I really began wondering why the African American experience always seemed to be omitted or short-lived.
I thought that there was a silver lining when shows on the WB such as “Girlfriend’s” and “The Game” began to show, and hoped that it was a sign of change, but when they were suddenly canceled at the height of their popularity, I had had enough. Then, to add insult to injury, even MTV”s LOGO channel, a GLBT programming station, canceled a highly rated show entitled “Noah’s Arc” that told the story about four African American Gay male friends.
Yes, the lack of programming that told our story left me disgusted and so I had all but given up until I ran across TV ONE. Once I checked out the array of entertainment available on that station I thought I had died and gone to television heaven. Even the commercials had us in them. Now, BET used to be a regularly watched station by me, however, after Donnie Simpson left, and Free and A. J. departed, I found that that the music and programming had changed, catering to a younger audience. Also, it seemed as if “Baby Boy” was on regular rotation on that channel, and then there was the heavy rotation of movies that seemed to cater to the darker side of the African-American existence. Now, don’t get me wrong, BET had certain shows that still captured my attention, but for the most part, my interest in it’s programming had waned.
Thankfully, it seems as if BET is returning to it’s roots, which is a good thing, because recently there have been a number of positive shows that I can identify as an older black man, and I”m am happy to see the change; now, in the meantime, TV ONE has truly stolen my heart. It’s UNSUNG series premiered a couple of years ago, and the in depth stories about R&B artists has captivated and satisfied my hunger for interesting and inspiring programming.
As a true lover of music, I was allowed to have a behind the scenes look at artist I have admired for as long as I can remember; from Teddy Pendergrass, Heatwave, Angela Winbush to Teena Marie, Shalamar, Micki Howard, Minnie Ripperton, Klymaxx, and Donny Hathaway (Just to name a few) — and the list is growing longer and longer with every passing season. Everything I ever wanted to know about their humble beginnings, to the pivotal points in their careers, to the slide of their careers is answered in a well written and entertaining documentary styled format– as told from the mouths of those entertainers and the friends of those entertainers still living,
As with prior episodes, tonight’s finale about the exciting, resilient, and mighty O’Jays touched my heart, my soul, and caused tears of joy and sadness to stream down my cheeks. I now know that “Love Train” was their biggest selling record, and it also answered questions about missing members who had been replaced, as well as, told the remarkable story of how Eddie Levert survived the devastating loss of both of his sons, Gerald and Sean eighteen months apart, and the inspiring story of Walter Williams’ amazing strength, as he performed over the years with a debilitating disease called M. S.
I suppose the one thing that really left me with a sense of warmth, is when the newest member of the group, Eric Grant teared up as he spoke about the respect that he has for the two eldest members of the group, and how he learned the true meaning of “Staying Hungry” when approaching a performance. That summed it up for me, because in all honesty, if we as a people see just how brilliant a tapestry we are, then perhaps we can rise again in unity to alter the current course that we are on. The love and respect of those who have lived through the civil rights movement should be held highly, and a sincere appreciation for all who walked in those shoes should always be at the forefront of future endeavors.
Change is happening though, I see it in the resurgence of programing such as this. In order for us to be a mighty collective force in the future, we must always remember from wince we came.
Thank you TV ONE, for exquisite programming, and for reminding me just how great we really are.
Author, G. D. Grace
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