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  • Jackie Robinson

    About halfway through this piece from 1969 is an interesting conversation among some top black athletes. Jackie Robinson, a fine track athlete, has some pointed comments.

    The panel consisting of four outstanding athletes and spokesman for the black movement was taped in New York City last week. The discussion of the black athlete in today's society will form a major portion of this Black Journal. Participants in the discussion were: -- Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 and who later became the first black member of baseball's Hall of Fame. Recalling the black protest at the 1968 Olympics, Robinson says: "I've never been so proud of individuals as I was of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Olympic Games." In terms of current protests by black athletes on college campuses, Robinson says: "I sometimes wish we had done the very same thing when we were out playing ball. If we had stood up, I doubt seriously if the youngsters today would have the kind of troubles that they're having." -- Bill Russell, the dominant figure in college and professional basketball for the past two decades, who also coached the Boston Celtics to NBA championships in 1968 and 1969. Russell explains that the successful athlete becomes "a product and not a person" and notes that the effort and knowledge whereby he became the leader in his field was as prodigious as that required to become president of General Motors. -- Arthur Ashe, America's top-ranked tennis star, who contends that athletics is "no different than any other corporation" and therefore poses the same problems for the black player as for the black employee. Ashe, who is currently pressing the issue of South Africa's athletic apartheid, states that the US Lawn Tennis Association will "say no to South Africa" and its Davis Cup application if he is refused acceptance in that country's open tennis tournament. -- Johnny Sample, who is now recovering from an injury after being a defensive stalwart on the New York Jets' Super Bowl winners. Sample discusses the economic inequities in sports today, where a "white general manager" will offer more money to a white ballplayer than a black man of equivalent talent. -- Harry Edwards, organizer of the black protest during the 1968 Olympics, and lecturer in social at Cornell University. Edwards expresses his concern about the "institutionalized relationships" that affect professional athletics and have "a direct bearing on the outcome, psychological state of masses of black people in this society." In another segment, "Black Journal" takes a look at the efforts of blacks and Puerto Ricans in the Transit Workers Union in New York City to oust the union leadership and elect leadership more representatives of racial minorities. (Although 70 percent of the workers are black and Puerto Ricans, only 20 percent of the leadership is non-white.) Joseph Carnegie, leader of the "Rank and File Committee for a Democratic Union," says his group's petition drive to call for a new state-supervised election of union leaders has been thwarted by the arrest of several petitioners for organizing on Transit Authority property. (Since the taping of the program, the State Public Employee Relations Board has heard charges of unfair labor practices filed by the committee and has ruled that he committee has limited access to Transit Authority property. A new intensified signature campaign is now being organized and Carnegie has retired as subway conductor to devote full time to organizing.) Other segments on the program are: -- A commentary on the past decade and its political implications by Dr. Hamilton, professor of political science, Columbia University and co-author of "Black Power." -- In a segment on the blues music of singer-composer John Lee Hooker, "Black Journal" will travel from the 1950s to the present and will include songs recorded by Hooker along with a commentary from him about the nature of his blues. Hooker returned three weeks ago from a successful engagement in Europe and is currently recording and going a night club act in Detroit. Black Journal began as a monthly series produced for, about, and - to a large extent - by black Americans, which used the magazine format to report on relevant issues to black Americans. Starting with the October 5, 1971 broadcast, the show switched to a half-hour weekly format that focused on one issue per week, with a brief segment on black news called "Grapevine." Beginning in 1973, the series changed back into a hour long show and experimented with various formats, including a call-in portion. From its initial broadcast on June 12, 1968 through November 7, 1972, Black Journal was produced under the National Educational Television name. Starting on November 14, 1972, the series was produced solely by WNET/13. Only the episodes produced under the NET name are included in the NET Collection. For the first part of Black Journal, episodes are numbered sequential spanning broadcast seasons. After the 1971-72 season, which ended with episode #68, the series started using season specific episode numbers, beginning with #301. The 1972-73 season spans #301 - 332, and then the 1973-74 season starts with #401. This new numbering pattern continues through the end of the series.
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