Art’s The Thing! – Black History Month (1984) | ETV Classics

South Carolina ETV has always been known to support the arts.  Hosted by Beryl Dakers, Art's The Thing! was a weekly magazine program featuring segments about the local South Carolina arts scene. In this special Black History Month episode, the focus is on Oral Traditions.

Much of what I am aware of when I speak of me as a person, as a human being, as I think back was fed to me in the form of those stories. - Ossie Davis

The episode opens with the legendary acting couple, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Both were avid supporters of the Civil Rights Movement with Ruby Dee emceeing the 1963 March on Washington. Ossie Davis was well known for his roles in the movies "Do the Right Thing" and "Grumpy Old Men." Ruby Dee was well known for her roles in "A Raisin in the Sun", "American Gangster," and "Jungle Fever." The couple discuss the importance of promoting the black oral tradition, black literature and poetry.

"Traditionally, in Africa, the spoken word was of more importance than the written word. History and lessons were recorded by the storyteller. And so the storyteller was greatly admired and greatly respected." - Princess Wilson

Princess Wilson performs the African folktale "Frog Wives Make Nienaber Pudding." Wilson, the Director of LaCECE in Lancaster County, shares her passion for teaching oral traditions through Drama and African folktales.

Music has always played an important part in our lives. It has helped us through good times and bad times through pain and sorrow and even encouragement to our youngsters." - Kitty Wilson

In the last segment, we learn music can also be an important part of oral tradition. Kitty Wilson sings the Negro spiritual, "Deep River,' and the lullaby from the black musical "Porgy and Bess."

For more Black history content, check out the Black History Month page.  Visit the digital series, ETV Classics, to watch more gems from South Carolina ETV's vault.

Side Note

Digging a bit deeper in the archives, our team found a longer interview with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee being interviewed by a South Carolina ETV legend, Listervelt Middleton. Middleton hosted the South Carolina ETV weekly series, For The People.  Each week, Middleton focused on African American history and culture. Enjoy this 30 minute interview below.