PushBlack Remembers: Before Olivia Pople, there was Julia




Today, we want to wish our sister-friend Diahann Carroll a happy birthday! You watch Scandal right? Of course you do. Well, Diahann Carroll’s show Julia paved the way for Scandal as the first network TV show with a black woman as the lead.



Hey, PushBlack family! Today, we want to wish our sister-friend Diahann Carroll a happy birthday! You watch Scandal right? Of course you do. Well, Diahann Carroll’s show Julia paved the way for Scandal as the first network TV show with a black woman as the lead. (Scandal is the second…40 years later). Although Julia was hit with much criticism for not depicting a realistic view of black life during the turbulent 1960s, Carroll called for support from her audience to contact the networks to express their issues. In today’s email, we’re explore other ways – past and present – that black Hollywood entertainers use their platform to speak out against anti-blackness.

OG Paul Robeson shows our generation how to represent.

There were classic men long before Jidenna had a hit summer song. Trust, as far as renaissance men go, Paul Robeson may very well be the godfather of black entertainers. The son of an escaped slave, Robeson held an esteemed career as an athlete, singer, and legend on the stage and screen. Most importantly, however, Robeson was an activist. Robeson was well informed about the systemic issues that plagued blacks in America and worldwide. He used his platform to speak about injustices against blacks on a world stage, most notably through his delivery of the “We Charge Genocide” petition to the United Nations. Check out this quick three-minute video where Robeson sheds light on the contributions of blacks to arts and culture while highlighting the international struggle of African peoples.

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The personal and professional are oh so political.

Robeson paved the way for contemporary black entertainers who now have a larger platform than ever before. Who do you want speaking for you? Which celebrities are informed enough to use their platform to speak out? Who should just shut the heck up? Some get it, others completely miss the mark. Check out this article on why it’s important for black celebrities to speak up. While Diahann Carroll made a conscious decision not to speak out in the 60s, today Kerry Washington and these 7 other black celebrities aren’t afraid to speak out about injustices against black people. Finally, we want to give a shout out to Shonda Rhimes for continuing to challenge stereotyped casting and All-American propaganda in a Hollywood system that traditionally excludes people of color. With all these big voices speaking up, is the next Paul Robeson amongst them?

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Black films are dope.

Two films on our summer watch list are Dope and Straight Outta Compton. While some celebrities go to social media and news outlets to voice their concerns, these filmmakers are letting their art do the talking. Dope is in theaters now, and director Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar, The Wood) promises that it will bust stereotypes of black masculinity. While trailers are often deceiving, the Straight Outta Compton trailer gives us a timely look at the revolutionary spirit of N.W.A. and serves as an interesting counterpoint to last year’s Selma. On August 14th, we’ll see if director F. Gary Gray’s (Friday, Set It Off) vision offers well rounded insight to the role of hip hop’s revolutionary nature in organizing the masses. Speaking of west coast revolutionary rappers and black masculinity, check out director Ernest Dickerson recounting the story of casting Tupac in Juice.

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Take Action

Learn about a group under the same name as Robeson’s address to UN: “ We Charge Genocide”. They describe themselves as an intergenerational grassroots movement to center the voices and experiences of young black people targeted by police violence in Chicago. Find out more HERE.

Netflix Picks of the Day

We made a list of our favorite Netflix films that provide unique insights into the black experience. Enjoy!

JuiceGimme The LootBeyond The LightsFruitvale Station


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Curated by PushBlack family member:

Julian Walker @KinfolkColl