I am an African- American male who Is 68 years old, and has mixed memories about the Amos &; Andy Show. Over the years as I became older and wiser through personal research, I found out a lot more about the characters, their personal accomplishments(which were substantial) and the racism of the times. From some of the responses I have read here, there is this feeling(from whites) that life was the same for all of us . And there seems to be confusion as to why any "colored person"(as we were called in the 1950's) would question any aspect of the show. Why, in some of these emails, is there a need to remind the rest of us that the show portrayed solid middle class conservative values?. I know and understand this because I lived with the heritage these people left me. But there is an another side to this too, There are people who acknowledge the so called'' goofball antics''. The only problem was, as great as their comedic genius and their ability to entertain us was. The earning power(of some black professionals) and the image of a whole race of people was affected by this show. Black lawyers(not lawyers in general) were affected by the images of Johnny Lee as Calhoun. Why, because whites believed that whatever they saw on television was the way we really were. Sure there were whites who played what you might call" Caucasian buffoonish" roles on television. But a whole race wasn't branded like we were. Thurgood Marshall and other esteemed black lawyers of the time often complained about how some whites didn't take them seriously because they saw them through the lens of Calhoun(Johnny Lee). Some of you are probably asking yourselves, How and why do some of those negroes(another endearing term for us) express the feelings and attitudes that they do about this show? we just loved those" coloreds", they were like members of our family , so lovable and different. Let's get out of the professional arena and talk about how it affected everyday working class blacks. I used to hear my uncles and friends of my father, say things like," if another one of those white guys gets in my face and keeps calling me lightnin or kingfish, I am going to kick his ass". Most of the time they didn't because whites controlled your destiny and your job. These men had families to feed. You notice that I said men. Because at the time, our families weren't dominated by females. Look at the negative and far reaching results it is having on us today.. We were called colored but we had solid family values and structure. Things began to fall apart with President Johnson's" Great Society", when they literally told Black Women that you don't need a man(husband or otherwise) in the home and we will support you financially and legally. Children became an economic commodity and meant more money. White feminist have also encouraged white women to become pit bulls in skirts and adopt these negative behaviors . Because of all this promiscuity, the landscape is littered with so called families of children(white and black) with different fathers. Before any one blames men, there are two words of empowerment in English or any other language, that is yes or no. Male or female, when it comes to your person, you have the power As I stated in the beginning, I loved the show, the actors and their family values. But if you think , that this show didn't have any residual racial effects, you are fooling your self
This TV series was the only show of its time to portray blacks as successful, well dressed everyday folks. The show would have been offensive only to hyper sensitive, dyed in the wool, black deadbeats. The characters were mostly honest working class people with good moral character. George Stevens was a schemer, but seldom succeeded with his schemes! Amos was depicted as the most hard working person in the cast and Sapphire was the conscience for George. The only "stereotype" in the show was the messenger boy, "Lightning"! These shows were straight forward and generally portrayed good values. Today's phony, "politically correct" depictions are mostly a lie to assuage opportunists like Jesse Jackson who makes his living by fomenting racial strife.
The first tv show with an all black cast was also one of the funniest shows of televisions first decade. It is truly a shame that political correctness has taken it away from so many generations.
There were many "intelligent/normal" characters on this show, Alvin Childress as Amos Jones being chief among them.
Tim Moore's Kingfish Stevens, Spencer Williams Jr.'s Andy Brown & Johnny Lee's Algonquin J. Calhoun were broad comic characters and not meant as racial stereotypes. At least that isn't what the actors intended. They just wanted to make people laugh.
Yes the characters were "goofballs" in the same sense that Fred Sanford, Cramer, Gilligan and even the Three Stooges were, the fact remains that they were talented and they were funny.
One of my favorite episodes is "Rare Coin". There has rarely been anything funnier than Andy using a nickel worth $250 in a pay phone, then he and Kingfish spend the rest of the episode trying to retrieve it.
It is such a shame that a segment of the population can't accept this show for what it is, a tremendously funny situation comedy with broad comic performances. They would rather desecrate the brilliant performances of truly gifted actors.
All those who condemned this show, its cast & their performances to the point of banishment accomplished, was to stifle the progress these great performers made in the industry.
The cast of "Amos 'N Andy" were decades ahead of their time, and made great strides and advances for black performers in show business at the dawn of television history.
Why aren't these shows being shown anymore? I'm a new member and one of the specific reasons I joined was to be able to enjoy watching these great old sitcoms. Amos and Andy was one of my all time favorites and I hope this site will be bringing them back for all to enjoy and soon. As an old time radio fan I learned to enjoy the talents of both Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. Two innovators in radio pioneering who brought forth Minstrel to the radio stage. I never looked upon this show as being racist but merely as entertainment. Don't believe it was ever meant to demean the Blacks but simply entertain. It was no more racist than the Beverly Hillbillies.
This show fell victim to the historical times when the struggle for true civil rights for people of all colors in the US made networks and poltical groups ultra-sensitive to anything that even seemed racist...Advertisers hate controversy.
Black stage shows, movie stars and TV shows once deemed OK were now denounced as 'racist' and as promoting racial stereotypes. Some did but I believe that Amos n Andy did not (although the original radio program/movie with 'black-face' white actors playing the leads was another matter). If you pay attention to the overall layout of this program it portrays something unheard of on american TV. A world populated by mostly well educated, well spoken, black professionals. We are shown doctors, lawyers, bankers, businessmen and just plain everyday people whose race was just a sidenote as they were portrayed as normal intelligent people who found Andy & the Kingfish just as odd/buffoonish as white america did.. Even Amos, the cab driver, always came across as intelligent and above the antics of his friends. The most stereotypical character was 'Lightnin', the "Stephen Fetchit" clone who was slow talking, slow moving, slow thinking. Algonquin J. Calhoun was more insulting to lawyers than blacks. This show in different times would have been seen for the farce it was. It should have been seen as no more offensive to the black community than Gomer Pyle was to the white community BUT even the slightest resemblance to racism was enough. I do not agree but I do understand. What I do NOT understand is why this show does not join the scores of other 'classic' old TV shows we now see in constant reruns. It is STILL very funny. Many modern shows and movies portray african-americans far worse than this show ever did (and are not half as good)...
Here is the Original NAACP note:
August 15, 1951 1. "It tends to strengthen the conclusion among uninformed and prejudiced people that Negroes are inferior, lazy, dumb and dishonest.
2. Every character in this one and only TV show with an all Negro cast is either a clown or a crook.
3. Negro doctors are shown as quacks and thieves.
4. Negro lawyers are shown as slippery cowards, ignorant of their profession and without ethics.
5. Negro Women are shown as cackling, screaming shrews, in big mouthed close-ups, using street slang, just short of vulgarity
6. All Negroes are shown as dodging work of any kind.
7. Millions of white Americans see this Amos 'n' Andy picture of Negroes and think the entire race is the same."
I was a young white boy watching this TV program. I just loved seeing all the charcters and being in on their adventures. My Father had told me that he knew one of the original Radio cast members. I kept asking him if we could go see Andy and his family. I just thought they were the nicest people I had ever seen. Of course, my parents explained the impossibility of that, but I didn't get it till many years later. I never looked down on the Amos or the Kingfish or the Kingfish's family. I just thought they were as funny as they could be and just like every bickering family I knew of. So, where's the Racism? I liked all of thes people and wanted to meet them!
Kingfish schemed and scammed his way through the episodes playing his chum Andy for a fool. Amos was too smart and busy working to fall victim to Kingfish, and rescued Andy most of the time. Calhoun, the lawyer, is by far the funniest member of the cast!
These guys were brilliant comedic actors who did a great job and were undeservedly swept aside. See these episodes if you can. You'll laugh yourself silly. The stories were great, too, classic. This was a pioneering work that should have got credit for preceding and foreshadowing shows like The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy. Brilliant comedians at work here, and tragically deprived of recognition by the NAACP. What irony! Kingfish (Tim Moore) was an old-school genius at delivering beautifully twisted lines of English, and his range of comical facial expressions is amazing; Andy, the slow moving, easy-going simple cigar-smoking dupe just walks into Kingfish's traps every time, and his facial expressions will crack you up, too; Amos is the smart, ethical, hard-working one who tries to keep everyone honest; and Calhoun the lawyer is another genius with his voice, choice of words and delivery. These four actors were consummate artists and I hope someday to see them get deserved recognition.
The Amos 'N' Andy show remains one of the most overlooked, misunderstood, and important pieces of television history ever. It gave a fine cast of talented black actors a chance to compete in the then all white world of television, without being racist.
I would like to begin by saying that The Amos N' Andy television show was definately not racist, as is the general consensus, in fact, most people who put it down as being such have never even seen a single episode! The show originally ran from 1951-1953, and was put in syndication until 1968 when it was removed from the airwaves forever after complaints by the NAACP and CORE. The stigma that haunts this program stems back to the radio show version which had Freeman Gosdin and Charles Correll (two white performers) playing the roles and putting on what essentially was an audio minstrel show. The television version was very different, as it was the first television program to feature an all black cast, and feature them in a positive fashion. It cast African Americans in the roles of doctors, lawyers, policemen, pharmacists, et cetera. The basic storyline of many of the episodes (for those that don't already know) is that the character George "Kingfish" Stevens tries to come up with a "get rich quick" scheme and it usually involves him trying to dupe his friend Andrew H. Brown out of his money. Well naturally his plan always backfires. Gee, that reminds me; wasn't that same basic premise used on The Honeymooners, Sgt. Bilko, Sanford and Son (which, incidently stole some of the Amos n Andy scripts for it's own show, only with subtile changes made!), and the list goes on! To get back to the topic of the alleged racism of this television classic, what about the African American cast programs since Amos n Andy? It is apparently acceptible to call white people "honky" or "cracker" or several other racially motivated epithets on such shows as Martin, Roc, and Sanford and Son, (just to name a few) so my question is: why are these shows allowed to remain on the air and Amos n Andy is not? Watch some episodes of Amos n Andy on DVD or YouTube, and judge for yourself. Thank you.
Magnificent acting and writing. Wonderfully funny in spite of the sterotypes. The only blatant stereotype was Kingfish's "yowser" dialect, but Archie Bunker murdered the English language too. Loveable characters, with endearing qualities. "The Christmas Show" is as loving, sweet, and moving as any holiday show ever filmed. Andy, in spite of being "dumb" turns out to be the kind of man everyone wishes to have for a friend. I have always seen the best in this show. I have video tapes of every episode, and my friends and I watch it always with a mixture of hillarious laughter and sentimental tears.
This show is a classic? Not even. Maybe to sepratists, and facists... but anybody, basically, who goes out of their way to say this show added anything substantive to the TV landscape, you're fooling yourself. In the same way that I dislike shows that glorify gehtto living and trailer park/good old boy mentalities-that is the same way I cannot look at this show and really be amused. Laughing at someone as they sell their souls for the collective chuckle is just pathetic. It panders to the very lowest of all of us, and creates more apathy than goodwill, which really good shows do.
Amos N Andy was no more offensive in its day as Sanford and Son was during its succesful run - and Sanford got rave reviews. Unfortunately, because of the paranoia of that era's tv executives, most viewers never got a chance to experience the excellence of this series. The only problem with this program was the title. This was truly the "Kingfish" show - featuring one of more unforgettable characters in tv history. Played brilliantly by Tim Moore, Kingfish was Ralph Kramden to Amos' Ed Norton. Kingfish had the schemes and ideas and Amos was his foil. Andy was simply the voice of reason who usually came to the rescue. Add Sapphire to the mix as Kingfish's loyal but skeptical wife, and this seris did nothing worse than display the foibles that could happen in any situation - be it black or white.
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