'Amos and Andy' on the air in Houston

November 12, 2012 9:13:39 PM PST
If you've ever heard of the old 50s TV comedy "Amos and Andy," you know it once triggered so much anger that it was pulled off the air. So why now after all these years has the show re-emerged on the airwaves here in Houston?

In this small southwest Houston office is the nerve center of a television network. The Rejoice Television Network. Sisters Kim and Crystal Dillard found a niche in targeting Houston's half million African-Americans.

"It was born because there was actually a need. I could see a need," Crystal Dillard said.

They air religious sermons, other self-produced programming, along with early, rarely seen feature length films starring black actors.

"Inspirational, empowering, uplifting, educational. All the things that are points of pride for our community," said Crystal Dillard.

Not every programming decision has been easy for these sisters. There was one show in particular that they labored over before they ever put it on the air -- Amos and Andy. A 1950s situation comedy eventually pulled from television in the mid-1960s due to the objection of the NAACP.

"They particularly didn't like the way black professionals were shown on the show. There was a doctor who was considered a quack and there was a lawyer who was considered a shyster," said Garth Jowett with the University of Houston.

Yolanda Smith, President of the Houston chapter of the NAACP, doesn't understand the decision to air it

"When you have young folks looking at a show like that, that depicts African-Americans in a negative tone, mocks African-Americans and education and achievement level, it's not something that we would encourage to be shown on the air," Smith told us.

But the Dillard sisters say they've gotten only positive feedback.

"Everything that has to do with Amos and Andy being negative, I believe, has to do with the frame of reference of when it was on the air," Crystal Dillard said.

"I can understand absolutely why and maybe at that time there was a need for it to be taken off," said Kim Dillard.

Because they understood that, they consulted sociologist Karl Mayes on how he thought the show would be received.

"Amos and Andy was contributing and people didn't know it. When you look back on it, you say wow you know to see images of African-Americans at that time it even educates me as a young man today," said Mayes.

The women point out that every episode was a morality tale, showing that good always triumphs over evil. And that they say is something in which everyone can rejoice.


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