Archive for the ‘1968’ Category

linda40Linda Harrison (1945- ) is an American actress. She is world-famous, though not by name, for one part in one film where she spoke no lines at all: she played Nova, Charlton Heston’s girlfriend in “Planet of the Apes” (1968). She was also in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970) where she said just one word: “Taylor!”, the name of Heston’s character.

linda43I think she is one of the most beautiful white women ever. I was reminded of her when I was on Zaius Nation the other day.

She grew up in Berlin, Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula. In the early 1960s she won a string of beauty contests in Maryland, becoming Miss Maryland in 1965 – and coming close to winning Miss USA.

In 1965 she came to New York to become a model and maybe an actress. She did a screen test for 20th Century Fox and landed a seven-year contract!

In 1966 she played a cheerleader twice on the television show “Batman” and was in a Jerry Lewis film, “Way… Way Out”.

linda04In 1967 she was in “A Guide for the Married Man”: she appears for five minutes with blonde hair but says no lines. She also became the first woman ever to play Wonder Woman for television (the show failed).

In 1968 she was in “Planet of the Apes”. Again no lines, but this time there was a good reason: her character lives in a world where apes talk and humans do not!

linda06About playing Nova she says:

I felt very intuitive that my particular personality and nature were like Nova. Automatically, I’d say that’s about 80% of the part. The director, the producer and the writer talked with me about her, and they described her as “sub-human.” We hadn’t really had an actress play “sub-human” before. Nova’s not like Raquel Welch’s character in “One Million Years B.C.” (1966). She was more primitive because of the apes’ suppression. We played it by ear and experimented. It was really a moment-to-moment thing.

The trope is Nubile Savage, kissing cousin of the Jungle Princess.

linda51In 1969 she played a regular character on the television show “Bracken’s World”, which was cancelled in the second season. About this time she made the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and became friends with editor Helen Gurley Brown.

Also in 1969 she married Richard Zanuck, a producer whose father ran Fox. After “Bracken’s World” Harrison dropped out of sight to become a mother to two sons, Harrison and Dean. She divorced in 1978.

She later appeared in some other films, like “Airport 1975″ (1974) and “Cocoon” (1985), but nothing to top Nova.

She almost played Roy Scheider’s wife in “Jaws” (1975). Her husband produced “Jaws” and wanted her for the part, but unfortunately he was overruled by the head of Universal who put in his own wife instead.

Harrison appeared briefly in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes” as Woman In Cart.

These days you can still see her at science fiction conventions!


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“Black is beautiful”

erykahbaduDisclaimer: Surprisingly, as much as this phrase is used, little is written online about it directly. So this is mainly from my imperfect memory:

“Black is beautiful” (1968) was a catchphrase from the Black Power movement in America. It meant that even though American society teaches in a thousand ways that white  is right and good and beautiful and that black is ugly and shameful and no-good, it was just so much brainwashing. “Black is beautiful” was an attempt to begin the unbrainwashing, to undo the internalized, black-on-black racism.

Malcolm X in Harlem in 1964:

We must recapture our heritage and our identity if we are ever to liberate ourselves from the bonds of white supremacy. We must launch a cultural revolution to unbrainwash an entire people.

Stokely Carmichael in 1966:

We have to stop being ashamed of being black. A broad nose, a thick lip and nappy hair is us, and we are going to call that beautiful whether they like it or not. We are not going to fry our hair anymore.


James Brown in 1968, reaching far more people through his songs:

Say it loud – I’m black and I’m proud.

The song in fact was about equal rights and freedom, but that line is what stuck in people’s heads. The song came out just when “Black is beautiful” was on everyone’s lips and helped to push it to the forefront.

Back then part of the power of “Black is beautiful” – and of the James Brown song – was the word “black”. It was not yet the main term for blacks like it is in this post. Instead people said “Negro” or “coloured”.

“Black” was the opposite of white and proud of it. “Negro”, meanwhile, got a bad name as being used by those who thought blacks should try to be more like white people in order to fit in and be accepted – assimilation, integration. So much so that “Negro pride” seems laughable whereas “black pride” does not.

As to “beautiful”, the phrase came when the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement showed how White America was not always so good and right and beautiful as it imagined itself to be. Even some young whites began to question it, protesting the war, becoming hippies, etc.

Some things that “Black is beautiful” helped along, though most of these were already in motion by 1968:

  • The term “black” instead of “Negro”
  • Natural hairstyles become way more acceptable: Afros, dreadlocks, etc.
  • Black ideas of female beauty become less openly white.
  • Fake African names (Shaquanda, etc)
  • African American Studies
  • Afrocentrism
  • Kwanzaa
  • Black History Month
  • Multiculturalism in America or, as the right puts it, cultural relativism
  • Blacks all over the world take more pride in themselves and their background as well as other ethnic minorities, like American Indians.
  • James Brown loses most of his white fans.

While it helped to increase black pride, internalized racism is still with us.

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a_cosmetics102Naomi Sims (1948-2009) was a black American supermodel from the 1960s, one of the first. Before there was Naomi Campbell, there was Naomi Sims. In November 1968 she became the first black woman on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal, the first to appear on a mainstream women’s magazine in America. She later went into business selling her own line of wigs and make-up designed for black women and wrote books about beauty and modelling. She died yesterday of cancer at age 61.

She was born in Mississippi but her family later moved up north to Pittsburgh, where she lived in a largely poor white neighbourhood. By 13 she was already 5 foot 10 (1.78 m) . She was picked on and became a loner. Growing up in an age before Twiggy and “Black is beautiful”, she was too tall, too thin and too dark to be considered beautiful. But her upbringing and her Catholic faith taught her to always walk with pride and dignity.

In 1966 she went to New York to live with her sister and study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her scholarship money was not enough, so she turned to modelling to put herself through school.

The model agencies all said no because she was black. So she called fashion photographers herself. One of them, Gosta Peterson, agreed to meet her.  His wife, it turned out, was the head of the fashion pages of the New York Times. In August 1967 she appeared in the Times.

After that success she went back to the model agencies but they still said no! So she talked one of them into letting her use their name and sent her layout in the Times to 100 advertising agencies. To the model agency’s utter amazement the calls started coming in! By November 1968 she was on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal.


life1969Her dark skin worked to her advantage: This was just when “Black is beautiful” was becoming a catchphrase and black tokenism was cutting edge stuff.

Within two years she was in all the fashion magazines. She made anything she wore look great and had her own way of walking down the runway that was beautiful to watch. She modelled for Halston, AT&T, Virginia Slims, Life magazine and others.

In 1972 Hollywood wanted her to star in “Cleopatra Jones”, a blaxpoitation film. When she read the script she said no: she was shocked at how racist it was.

In 1973 she made the cover of Cosmopolitan and then quit modelling.

Four years before she had said, “There is nothing sadder than an old, broke model.” So she went into business making wigs. She found out how to make hair that looked like straightened black women’s hair and then designed wigs in all the latest styles. In the 1980s she branched out into perfume, skin-care and make-up. By the 2000s, however, large white companies started to push her out.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s she wrote five books. One of them,”All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman” (1976),  is still in print.

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blue-green-eye-race-experimentThe blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise (1968) is a way to teach white people what racism is like. It was something that an American schoolteacher, Jane Elliott, came up with to teach her class of eight- and nine-year-olds in the all-white town of Riceville, Iowa.

Elliott had made Martin Luther King, Jr the Hero of the Month for her class in April 1968. But then a few days later he was shot dead. Her students asked why.

She asked them what they knew about black people. Even though few of them had ever met one, they informed her that:

  • They’re dirty
  • They stink
  • They don’t smell good
  • They riot, they steal
  • You can’t trust them, my dad says they better not try to move in next door to us.

So then she in turn informed them about blueys, you know, those blue-eyed people: they lacked intelligence, they do not work hard, they cannot be trusted. They just were not as good as brown-eyed people. Science has proved it!

She had a blue collar pinned round the neck of each blue-eyed child in class.

Because brownies, the brown-eyed people, were better, they got special privileges: five more minutes of playtime, second helpings of lunch, the right to drink water straight from the water fountain instead of from a cup, the right to tell the blueys what to do.

The blueys meanwhile suffered disadvantages: they were not allowed to play on the playground equipment and were not allowed to play with brownies.

In addition whenever a brownie did something good, she pointed it out. And when a bluey did something bad she made sure everyone knew about it.

What came next shocked even her.

Schoolwork: Some of the brownies were dyslexic, they had trouble reading, but then suddenly they could read and spell words they never could before! The blueys meanwhile became unsure of themselves and did poorly even though they had done just fine the day before.

Behaviour: The brownies called the blueys names and got into fights. The brownies became “arrogant, ugly, domineering, overbearing”. The blueys became sad, violent and their spirits sank. Not unlike the prisoners in the the Stanford Prison Experiment a few years later.

She did not tell the brownies how to act, she did not tell them to be mean, she just told them they were better and favoured them. But, as she pointed out later:

They already knew how to be racist because every one of them knew without my telling them how to treat those who were on the bottom.

The next day she told the class that she had lied: blue-eyed people, in fact, were better. After all, she was blue-eyed. So the collars went off the blueys and onto the brownies. Now the blueys did better in school and became overbearing – but they were not as bad as the brownies  because they knew what it was like to wear the collar.

It proved to her that racism is learned, that it is not something you are born with, that it does not have to be.

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ellenholly2Ellen Holly (1931- ) is an American actress, the first black actress ever to appear regularly on a soap opera. She played Carla Hall on “One Life to Live” from 1968 to 1985. She also played the president’s wife in “School Daze” (1988).

Holly grew up in New York, the daughter of a chemical engineer and a librarian. She studied acting at Hunter College and went on from there to act on stage. By 1956 she was on Broadway. She got in to the Actors Studio, the first black woman ever to do so.  She later  got parts in film and television too.

In 1968 Holly wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times about what it was like to be a light-skinned black woman. Agnes Dixon, who was then starting a new soap called “One Life to Live”, read that letter. It led her to create the character of Carla Gray (later Hall). She offered the part to Holly herself. Holly took it and became the first regular black female character on a soap. Other soaps soon followed their lead and had black characters of their own too.

When Holly first appeared on “One Life to Live”, on July 25th 1968, the second week of the show,  no one knew that she was black! Because of how she looks viewers assumed that she was white – so much so that when she kissed a black doctor many of them called to complain!  So then they brought her black mother into the story, showing that Holly’s character was trying to pass for white.

Her character was supposed to only last a year, but it was so successful that she was on the show till 1985 (with a break from 1980 to 1983). She wrote some of the storylines for Carla, becoming one of the few blacks who have written for a soap.

She later appeared on “Guiding Light”, another soap, from 1991 to 1993 as Judge Collier.

“One Life to Live” was the first time she played a regular character on a television show, though before that she had made appearances on “The Defenders”, “Nurses” and “Dr Kildare”. Her first television appearance was on “The Defenders” in 1963.

She was on “Spenser: For Hire” in 1986 and on “The Heat of the Night” four times in 1990.

ellen2She is been in a few films. “School Daze” is probably the best known one.   In 2002 she was in the Mario Van Peebles film, “10,000 Black Men Named George”.

She has done quite a bit of Shakespeare, especially in the New York Shakespeare Festival. She has played Lady Macbeth in “Macbeth”, Desdemona in “Othello” and the shrew herself in “Taming of the Shrew”. You can see her in the 1974 film “King Lear” starring James Earl Jones. She plays one of Lear’s evil daughters, Regan. You can see a bit of it on YouTube (at least in April 2009 you could).

She wrote about her life in “One Life: The Autobiography of an African American Actress” (1994). It is a powerful account of being talented, beautiful and black.

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Can you surry, can you picnic?
Can you surry, can you picnic?
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
There’ll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine (moonshine)
Stoned soul, stoned soul
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Rain and sun come in akin
And from the sky come the Lord and the lightning
And from the sky come
The Lord and the lightning
Stoned soul, stoned soul
Surry on soul
Surry, Surry, Surry, Surry
There’ll be trains of blossoms (there’ll be trains of blossoms)
There’ll be trains of music (there’ll be music)
There’ll be trains of trust, trains of golden dust
Come along and surry on sweet trains of thought
Surry on down
Can you surry, can you surry
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
There’ll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine (moonshine)
Stoned soul, stoned soul
Stoned soul yeah
Surry on soul

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Ladies and Gentlemen – I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening. Because. . . I have some – some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King – yeah that’s true – but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much.

(Thanks to Macon D’s blog, Stuff White People Do, for reminding me about this speech)

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We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

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Gotta get off, gonna get…
Have to get off from this ride.
Gotta get hold, gonna get…
Need to get hold of my pride.

When did I get, where did I…
How was I caught in this game?
When will I know, where will I…
How will I think of my name?

When did I stop feeling sure, feeling safe,
And start wondering why, wondering why?
Is this a dream, am I here, where are you?
What’s in back of the sky? Why do we cry?

Gotta get off, gonna get,
Out of this merry-go-round.
Gotta get on, gonna get…
Need to get on where I’m bound.

When did I get, where did I…
Why am I lost as a lamb?
When will I know, where will I…
How will I learn who I am?

Is this a dream?
Am I here?
Where are you?
Tell me, when will I know?
How will I know?
When will I know why?

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(DeSpenza / Wolfolk)

Aww, she didn’t bat an eye
As I packed my bags to leave
I thought she would start to cry
Or sit around my room and grieve
But y’all, the girl, she fooled me this time
She acted like I was the last thing on her mind
I would like to start all over again

Baby, can I change my mind
I just wanna change my mind
Baby, let me change my mind
As I took those steps
Toward that open door
Knowing all the time
Oh, Lord, I just didn’t wanna go
But she didn’t give me no sign
Nothing that would make me change my mind
I would like to start all over again

Baby, can I change my mind
Please, please, please, baby
I just wanna change my mind

Oh, I played my games
Many times before
But peoples, let me tell y’all
Oh, I never reached the door
But ooh, the winds howl tonight
I keep lookin’ back but my baby’s nowhere in sight
I would like to start all over again

Baby, can I change my mind
Please, please, please, baby
Baby, let me change my mind [Fade]

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Sundown towns (1890-1968 ) were white-only towns in America where blacks and others were not allowed to live. There were thousands of them. They were outlawed in 1968 by the Fair Housing Act.

The name comes from signs at the edge of town warning blacks to leave by sundown. One sign in Hawthorne, California in the 1930s said, “Nigger, don’t let the sun set on you in Hawthorne.” Blacks were allowed in town during the day to work but had to leave before nightfall.

Most sundown towns were not in the South, like you might think, but in the North and Midwest. The South kept the races separate and unequal with Jim Crow laws. In the North and Midwest many towns simply drove blacks out, especially in the 1890s, and kept them out. Blacks lost their land and houses and sometimes their lives.

It was not just blacks who were affected by this sort of thing. To a lesser degree so were Jews, Chinese, Mexicans and Native Americans, sometimes even Catholics. Idaho, for example, was once a third Chinese. That was before the whites drove them out.

These towns were not just here and there in lost little corners of the country. They were everywhere. President George W. Bush grew up in one. So did Emily Post, Edgar Rice Burroughs (who gave us Tarzan), Joe McCarthy (who drove out Communists) and Dale Carnegie.

Levittown on Long Island in New York state was one. It became the model for white suburbia – not just in its look-alike houses, but also in its Wonder Bread whiteness. No blacks lived there. Not because blacks could not afford it, but because whites were not allowed to sell their houses to them!

William Levitt, himself a Jew, said, “If we sell one house to a Negro family, then 90 to 95 percent of our white customers will not buy.”

Some other notable sundown towns: Darien, Connecticut, Grosse Pointe, Michigan, Tarzana, California and Cicero, Illinois.

A sundown town might have one or two black families, but no more were allowed to move in.

Whenever I return to America from overseas I know I am back home because I see black people again. Blacks are part of what America is. Even in Alaska.

So when a town has no blacks or just one or two families, it is unnatural. It means blacks are being kept out somehow.

Before 1968 towns could keep blacks out by law and by violence. The police or the good white people would throw them out – or sometimes even kill them.

But now there are other ways to keep a place nearly all white, like redlining. So the same thing still goes on today but by different means.

The proof of this is just how white the white suburbs are. Almost 90% of suburban whites live in places that are less than 1% black! Whites see nothing wrong with that – in a country where 9% of the middle class is black!

White suburbia has taken the place of the old sundown towns.

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