Amos ‘n’ Andy: African-American Stereotypes and the Impact of the NAACP on Television

"Amos ‘n’ Andy," began as a radio show in 1928. The show was set in Harlem, a section in New York City predominately African-American. The radio show was a spin-off from a minstrel act that involved two white actors in black face. Protests by African-American organizations against the show began in 1931. These protests were unsuccessful, and the show eventually became a television show beginning in 1951 (CBS) with the lead characters being black actors not white in black face. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began protesting the show and wanted it removed almost from when it first appeared on television. One of the main characters (the Kingfish) was portrayed as a con man, another was presented as a dim-witted cab driver. The language spoken by the characters was a gutter form of English meant to convey a stereotype of all African-Americans. CBS cancelled the show in 1953, but it lived on in syndication until 1966. There were episodes of the show produced that were not shown at the time CBS cancelled the show and those episodes lived on. American television was slow to eventually remove the show, in contrast with CBS sending reruns of the show to Kenya in 1963 where it was banned almost immediately.
Someone agreeing to write on his topic can address several issues: 1) How was the show received by both white and black audiences when it first appeared on television, and; 2) the protests to remove first the radio show then the television show can focus on how effective or ineffective these protests were and what they say about African-American influence, and the NAACP in particular, on radio and television content regarding portrayals of black America.

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