In the summer of 1968, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and nationwide rioting, CBS broadcast the documentary “Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Stayed,” narrated by Bill Cosby. Modern viewers who remember Cosby from his Jello pudding commercials or Fat Albert may be surprised to hear him deliver a message of “angry, militant outrage” against racism. The documentary also brings up the many contributions to society made by black people which were ignored in history books at the time, and discusses the racist portrayal of black people in films.
Cosby, then a star of “I Spy,” one of the most popular TV shows at the time, risked his “safe and non-threatening” reputation by telling the world how he really felt. Despite its controversial nature, the show was a sensation, and CBS aired it again three weeks later, when it again attracted a record number of viewers. Cosby concludes the documentary by saying that “it’s 300 years we’ve been in this American melting pot, and we haven’t been able to melt in yet, and it’s a long wait. We’ve been trying to play it straight and white, but it’s been just bit parts. From now on, we’re going to play it black.”
Watch the documentary in the player up top.