Like most entertainers, TV and cinema personalities. it has been my pleasure to be actively involved with the struggle of my people attempting to extricate themselves from the bonds of discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry that has held us so fast, for so long.
I’ve been more than happy to appear at schools, churches and community affairs in hope that what success I have attained could serve as an inspiration for some black youth who might otherwise give up. The energy and time I have invested in helping the mothers of Watts, VISTA, Head Start, Bootstrap and OIS has been meaningful to me.
Fighting for a race
I know I am not only fighting and working for my people as a race, I’m fighting for myself as an individual as well. As a black person, I am affected by the same unjust elements, simply on a different level.
One of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had was in a poverty area church . . . predominantly black. The minister had asked me to talk to the youth group. His concern was for their future, their ambitions, and discouraging from violence.
What can one say to a 17-year-old black boy who says, “Miss Nichols, before I die in Vietnam for a country that will not acknowledge me as a person, I’d rather die in the streets fighting for my freedom here. And if not my freedom. maybe the next generations to come.”
Perhaps this was the first time I had truly understood the meaning of the Black Movement, for even in spite of their despair I could feel a great sense of pride. Many of the girls and boys now wore their hair in the natural style. Yes, they were black AND proud of it. Poor AND not happy with it. American AND determined to be treated like it. Could I assure him of equality? Could I assure him of his rights?
As the first black woman in a TV series, I had made a small fissure in the wall surrounding a closed wall called “for whites only.” Would I set a precedent to help open the way to greater involvement in the industry? Would I be able to gain greater acceptance and understanding of my people as people?
At that moment, I realized how badly my people need help, and how badly my country needed help.
The best way to help my people and all people is to help the nation wake up. We as a enemy known to man, ourselves. people are facing the greatest As long as we live from riot to riot and from assassination to assassination, this country is in trouble.
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The article "She's hoping dream becomes reality" was originally published in The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana) on 26 July 1968, text via Click Americana
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