Once Lost, Painfully Present: Maya Angelou’s Blacks, Blues, Black! (1968)


Dr. Adrien Sebro

Date of Event



Dr. Maya Angelou’s Blacks, Blues, Black! was a triumph of Civil Rights-era public affairs television, produced and aired amid nationwide uprisings in the immediate wake of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968. Blacks, Blues, Black! promoted Black unity, education, liberation, and culture. However, after it aired, the show’s tapes were lost for decades and only rediscovered by chance in 2009. With its rediscovery, the program reveals similarities between state-sanctioned violence against Black people in 1968 and today while introducing a new generation of viewers to Angelou’s enduring insights and strategic sensibility.

This talk sets forth a rewriting of media history about lost archives, Black visibility, creative autonomy, publicly funded media, and popular education television. In addition, we will analyze the specific lessons arising from the educational content of Blacks, Blues, Black!, the African origins of Black cultural forms/practices, and Black unity, offering strategic insight into combating temporal state violence against Black bodies.

The presentation will include a discussion of the legal landscape for Black media outlets during the late 60’s and early 70’s. Pressing legal questions and relevant legal cases regarding Black America and the media will be examined.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Adrien Sebro (SEE-bro) is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in critical media studies at the intersections of race, socioeconomics, gender, performance and Black popular culture. Sebro is also a Faculty Affiliate with the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. His recently published book, Scratchin’ and Survivin’: Hustle Economics and the Black Sitcoms of Tandem Productions (Rutgers University Press), explores a production history of Black economics and creative agency in the all-Black cast sitcoms of Tandem Productions: Sanford and Son (1972-1977), Good Times (1974-1979), and The Jeffersons (1975-1985). Sebro's commentary and expertise have been featured on ViceTV, Variety, USA Today, NBC News, HuffPost, and CNN.

Lecture Series

Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Conflict & Dispute Resolution

2nd Lecture Series

Social Justice Law Center

Subject Headings

Blacks, Blues, Black!; Maya Angelou; Black unity; State-sanctioned violence


CWRU School of Law Moot Courtroom

Document Type