I Miss the 90’s & A Different World

I Miss the 90s is a new series that I am starting to talk about what I miss from growing up in the 1990s. Do you miss A Different World?

In the 1990’s, there were a ton of sitcoms and movies starring African Americans.  They were given different roles that depicted the diverse backgrounds of all black people.  As a little black girl growing up in this time, this was exciting.  I was able to see people that looked like me living their fictional life on a television show and not just as a sad looking case on the Evening News or Cops.

Black people weren’t only given the roles of the house maid or the drug dealer.  We were doctors, lawyers, beauticians, teachers, and stock brokers.  We were shown to be business women that still had a life outside of work.  We were students trying to have a voice in America and trying to make a difference in the world.

A Different World, was a spin-off of the classic Cosby Show.  It featured the fictional college of Hillman.  Seeing all of those young, hip, black students, thrilled me and I too wanted to attend.  I didn’t know it was made up; I just wanted to experience that type of college life one day.  A Different World was a show that was ahead of its time. It showcased the many ups and downs that come with being a college student.  What made it even more special was that the characters were brown like me.  Black like me, whatever; they were African American like me.  These students were trying to navigate  through the rocky and sometimes unstable waters of friendship and on time graduation.  They were finding love and learning about who they were and wanted to be.  Has there ever been a successful television show that displayed young adults in college?  Not interns, but as actual students.

After Season 1, the show changed it’s focus from Lisa Bonet’s character, Denise Huxtable, to the spoiled, southern, and sheltered Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) and the determined, and sometimes uncertain, flip-up glasses wearing Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison).  Their journey of love brought more humor to an already hilarious show.  Sprinkled throughout the story lines of Whitley and Dwayne, were issues affecting black people in the world at the time like  HIV/AIDS, the injustice of Apartheid in South Africa, Interracial Dating, racial profiling, and the moral decision to continue to be financially supported by companies or organizations that don’t support YOU.  These were issues discussed in the early 90’s, but what’s changed?

With the direction of Debbie Allen, this show helped to make its black viewers even more proud to be black.  For the non-black viewers it taught many lessons on the rights and privileges that are not always easily given, based on the brownness of ones’ skin but with a youthful and mature perspective.   A Different World helped to celebrate the African American’s place in this country by showing that our history didn’t start with slavery and “the struggle”.  That we will continue to make our mark in this country and around the world.  Because of this show, many people were introduced to the dancing style of Alvin Ailey, to the beautifully talented acting chops of Diahann Carroll*, and the power of Step and camaraderie within the African American Fraternities/Sororities.

A Different World was a show before its time.  A realistic story on the plights of the educated African American.  Before the days of social media and internet stardom, young people wanted to achieve the American Dream by going to college and allowing education to “take them places”.  I desired to attend college because of A Different World. Hey TV Writers, please bring back the trend of television shows that inspired young people to dream of being successful with their brain and hard-work. Not just from going viral.

*Diahann Carroll had her own television sitcom, Julia, where she played a single parent and a nurse.  Many believed she was a  white woman with brown make-up on because she was thought to be too beautiful to really be a black woman.  She was also starred in the show Dynasty.

Catch A Different World on Amazon Prime.  Thank you for reading.  Like, Comment, Share, and Subscribe.

All images of Diahann Carroll found on Pinterest, Diahann-Carroll.com, IMDB

Images of A Different World found on Pinterest and its-a-different-world.com

 

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The Same 7

These 7 aren’t the only ones that have helped the black race in trying to “overcome some day”.

This might be late in the month, but I haven’t forgotten that February is Black History Month.  Being African American, I strongly believe that this month should not be the only time people of African descent are celebrated.  Black History is American History and World History.

With that being said, there is still time to roll out the red, green, and black. To walk with pride in the parades that showcase the talent and musicality of the bands of Historically Black Universities.  Bring on the African American History programs at schools and churches.  Many of our children will write essays detailing why they believe Dr. King’s dream has come to pass; and there will be many debates on why the N-word shouldn’t be used by anyone.  All of these activities that display pride and the betterment of our people are fine.  Though this month seems to be the only time we hear about the contributions African American’s have made, can we please turn the repeat button off and hear about others that have also added to our history?

The same 7 are on replay EVERY February.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly respect the work that Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, and the Obamas did.  Their sacrifices allow much of the liberties we live by today, but there are others that have made great achievements too.  These 7 aren’t the only ones that have helped the black race in trying to “overcome some day”.

Lonnie Johnson

Think about it, what would summer be like if it weren’t for the genius behind the infamous Super Soaker.  Not only was he an inventor, but an engineer as well.  Thank you Mr. Johnson for making summer’s even more memorable.  Read more about him at www.lonniejohnson.com .

 

Fannie Lou Hamer

Growing up the daughter of Sharecroppers to working on a Plantation in the 1950s-1960s.  She was a victim of the “Mississippi Appendectomy” and unjustly had her uterus  removed.  She continued to fight for the rights of the black vote and for the black voice to be heard.  No wonder she was “tired of being sick and tired”.  Read about the Strong Fannie Lou Hamer at https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/fannie-lou-hamer

Isaiah T. Montgomery & Benjamin Green

These two former slaves dreamed of starting the largest U.S. African American town and they did.  Click the link to read about how they developed the city of Mound Bayou, Mississippi and how it became known as the “Jewel of the Delta”. https://blackthen.com/mound-bayou-mississippis-jewel-delta-largest-black-town-u-s/

Benjamin Banneker

A man that allowed his love of education, space, time, and farming to create one of the first annually sent almanacs and the clock.  He didn’t allow race to stop him from writing to Thomas Jefferson about the inhumane treatment of slavery.  Read more about Benjamin Banneker at http://www.black-inventor.com/Benjamin-Banneker.asp

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Lonnie Johnson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Isaiah T. Montgomery, Benjamin Banneker, Benjamin Green

 

These are only a few of the great people that have made a difference to the way America is and they should be recognized.  Many of them are unknown or hardly mentioned in history.  Let us honor them and others, by researching them to learn about what they did to truly make America a great nation for all.

Thank you for reading.  Please like, share, comment, and subscribe.

Photos: Wikipedia and People

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