Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

December 6, 1969

Guest post by Keisha Smith, History MA student at Arizona State University.

I chose the article None Knows What ‘Majority’ Thinks because it has just as much relevance today as it did when it was written. First, the author discusses the relevance of the media in dictating majority viewpoints. At the time this article was written, there were only a few major networks; however the same still rings true today. The media is able to dictate what is important by selecting “newsworthy” stories to report on and discuss.  Their very limited view of what is important to the American people may or may not be accurate. The article states that “no one knows what the majority thinks,” and I believe that to be true. It is almost impossible to tell what the majority wants, or is actually feeling at any particular point in time. Polls only sample hundreds from millions of Americans and are generalized to represent the majority, but that system is flawed. We have to be careful when studying African-American history (or history in general), so that we are not guilty of misrepresenting the views of the majority.
The second most interesting piece of the article was the discussion of more diversity in television programming. The author discusses how African Americans have a very limited role in television programming, and more opportunities were needed for minority performers. Today we are seeing more diversity of actors and actresses on television shows than at any point in television. This diversity is great progress from when this article was written. However, there is still more work to be done behind the scenes, as positions for writers, directors, and producers are still dominated by white males.

Here is the link to the Spiro Agnew’s speech on television news coverage that Whitney Young critiques in this Chicago Defender column.

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