The video below was published in partnership with Peabody Spotlight, a digital series produced by the Peabody Media Center at the University of Georgia in commemoration of Black History Month.
Each part of the series draws from the vast Peabody Awards archives, the third-largest repository of audiovisual materials in the United States. Peabody Spotlight will focus on significant societal issues as represented through the storytelling of Peabody winners and finalists, as well as more than 70 years of broadcasting’s best programming.
This installment, “Black Power and Creative Expression,” showcases both local and national programming provided by African Americans as vehicles to express themselves through art and performance.
From spoken-word performances on productions such as Tell It Like It Is! and Colored People’s Time to appearances by James Brown and Nina Simone on national TV, the medium captured the voices of a movement before, during and after the untimely murder of Martin Luther King Jr.—one of the biggest leaders of the movement.
“It was very exhilarating to be part of the movement at that time because I was needed. I could sing to help my people. Not classical music, not even popular music, but civil rights music,” Simone proudly said of her own creative expression.
Gordon Parks said, “I felt the need for me to somehow or another use humanity to get people to become aware of how people suffered. That was what drove me into it.”
He continued, “There was always the need possibly to befriend an impoverished family, or to help a poor boy, or a poor girl, to expose something to the public that I felt was being hidden.”
Watch the video: