“Amos ‘n’ Andy” was so controversial that in 1951 the NAACP demanded it be taken off the air for its derogatory portrayal of blacks. By 1966, the NAACP won a victory by stopping the show’s reruns from airing.
But at Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Saturday morning forum this week, “Amos ‘n’ Andy” was back in fashion. Chicago talk show personality Cliff Kelley emceed a panel discussion. Warming up the crowd, Kelley placed his arm on the shoulder of Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree and tried a little humor: (video here)
Let me tell you just one quick joke. We have all these legal eagles here and it’s just fantastic. How many of you remember “Amos 'n' Andy”? Yeah, wasn’t it? “Amos ‘n’ Andy,” right. Andy Brown got a subpoena, professor. And he didn’t know what it was. So he took it over to the Mystic Knights of the Sea lodge hall to Kingfish ‘cause Kingfish knew everything, right?
So Kingfish says “Let me, let me lookie here, let me see this, boy. Sub. Sub. That’s Latin, that means under. Poena. Hmm. You know what your poena is, boy. I think they got you by the balls.
Ogletree responded with a laugh, “He’s right.”
For the remaining 30 minutes that the discussion was televised on The Word network, not a single speaker objected to what some would describe as racial stereotyping. Perhaps Marcia Fudge, chair of the black congressional caucus, ranking member of the House judiciary committee John Conyers, or Jackson himself enjoyed the joke.
But can you imagine the stir if something similar were said at a conservative, GOP, or Tea Party event? The mainstream media would have been all over it like white on ri. . . .Well, they would have had a field day.