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From the Archive: Sammy Davis, Jr. on the Civil Rights Movement

Daniel Hautzinger
Sammy Davis, Jr. on Our People with Jim Tilmon in 1968
Sammy Davis, Jr. on 'Our People' with Jim Tilmon in 1968

Sammy Davis, Jr.: American Masters is available to stream.

Between 1968 and 1972, Channel 11 broadcast a pioneering show called "Our People," hosted by longtime Channel 5 meteorologist Jim Tilmon. It was the first televised weekly forum for black issues, and featured guests ranging from a young Harold Washington to James Baldwin to Dr. Margaret Burroughs, the artist and co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History. In 1968, Tilmon interviewed Sammy Davis, Jr. for a conversation that touched on racial representation in film, the importance of knowing about and being proud of African history, and racism. "Don't let 'em pigeonhole me, man, cuz I will not allow myself as a black individual to be pigeonholed," Davis says in his characteristic voice. "Be aware of your blackness, be conscious of it, and wear it – proudly." 

Watch highlights from the interview below.