Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Panel Exhibition

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Black Character Revolution Firsts – A Timeline Of The First Appearances Of Positive Black Animation Characters In Television History


Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Panel Exhibition

The Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Panel Exhibition features a timeline of the first appearances of positive Black animation characters in television history and highlights the historic significance of these appearances in Saturday morning cartoons and specials during the late 1960’s / 1970’s.

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts celebrates the 40th anniversaries of these stereotype breaking Black animation character appearances.

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts highlights a unique Black history milestone and significant cultural victory resulting from the Civil Rights Movement in an uplifting way.

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts positively engages a multicultural and intergenerational audience.

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts attracts new visitors and school trips.

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts generates positive press and social media coverage.

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts extends the reach of our PHENOMENALLY SUCCESSFUL Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Animation Art Exhibition, which is currently traveling to museums across the country.

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts includes 21 text, timeline and cartoon character panels, captures key images from the animation art exhibition.

5,475 funky people have seen Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts to date.

Funky Turns 40 Black Character Revolution Panel Exhibition TimelJosie And The Pussy Cats Cartoon Panel

Panel Exhibition 2

 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution At The Brown V. Board Of Education National Historic Site – July, 2015

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Our panel exhibition national tour is off to a STRONG start!

Our first stop, at the Brown V. Board Of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas was a major success. Funky Turns 40: Firsts drove +11% more visitors to the park, +11% more visitor hours compared to last year.

Panel Exhibition

Schedule: July, 2015

Stats:

  • 3,180 people saw the exhibition
  • 6,360 visitor hours
  • +11% increase in park attendance and visitor hours vs. last July

Highlights: Results are consistent with the Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution National Museum Tour

  • “Resonated With People Of All Ages”
  • “Tapped Into Nostalgia, Brought Back Fond Memories”
  • “Happy Faces – Fun Exhibition Vs. Brown V. Board Of Education Heavy Subject Matter”
  • “Attracted Families Vacationing In The Mid-West”
  • “Local Families Saw Press Coverage And Came Out Specifically To See The Exhibition”
  • “Staff Loved It”
  • “Connected Generations – Facilitated Dialogue Between Parents And Children”
  • “Seniors Lingered At The Exhibition”
  • “Great Timing – During The Summer, Kids Out Of School”

Demographics:

  • Black / Multi-Cultural
  • Intergenerational – Children, Parents, Grandparents
  • Families Vacationing With Children Touring The Mid-West
  • Local Families With Children / Grandchildren
  • Seniors
 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts At The Bessie Smith Cultural Center – September-October, 2015

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Funky Turns 40 Exhibition

Our panel exhibition national tour continues its EXCELLENT performance!

Our second stop, at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee was also a major success. 1100 people saw Funky Turns 40: Firsts, 80% of whom were first time visitors to the museum.

Schedule: September-October, 2015

Stats:

  • 1,100 people saw the exhibition
  • 500 students from local rec centers – for many this was their first trip to a museum
  • 600 from out of town

Highlights: Results are consistent with the Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution National Museum Tour

  • “Resonated With People Of All Ages”
  • “Very Nostalgic”
  • “Sparked A Lot Of Conversations”
  • “Content Was Great”
  • “Perfect For Students”
  • “Used Exhibition To Get Students Excited About Coming To A Museum…Now They Are Asking When They Can Come Back”
  • “It Is Needed, Kids Need To See This, It Is A Conversation That Kids Need To Hear”

Demographics:

  • Black / Multi-Cultural
  • Intergenerational – Children, Parents, Grandparents
  • Students
  • Out Of Town Visitors
 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts At The Purdue Black Culture Center – February-March, 2016

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Our panel exhibition national tour continues its STELLAR performance!

Our third stop, at the Purdue Black Cultural Center was also a huge success. 1,195 people saw Funky Turns 40: Firsts, 59% of whom were K-12 school students.

Schedule: February-March, 2016

Stats:

  • 1,195 people saw the exhibition
  • 708 K-12 students

Highlights: Results are consistent with the Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution National Museum Tour

  • “Well Received By People Of All Ages”
  • “Suitable For All Audiences”
  • “Provided Opportunity To Walk Down Memory Lane And Recall Personal Experiences Watching The Cartoons”
  • “Perfect For Students – Elementary, Middle, High Schools On School Trips, Undergraduate And Graduate Students”
  • “Enjoyed By University Administration, Faculty And Staff”
  • “Drew Visitors From Local Community”
  • “Unanticipated Value Of The Exhibit Was Intergenerational Dialogue It Promoted”
  • “Positive Images Were Very Inspiring For Our Students”

Demographics:

  • Black / Multi-Cultural
  • Intergenerational
  • Students / School Tours – Elementary, Middle, High Schools / Undergraduate, Graduate University Students
  • Administration, Faculty, Staff
  • Local Community
  • Visitors
  • Outside Group Meetings
  • Group Tours
 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts At VCU Kinetic Imaging – August 24-September 11, 2016

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Our fourth stop, at VCU Kinetic Imaging was also very successful. The Curators of the Museum Of UnCut Funk held a lecture with Dr. Christopher Lehman, author of The Colored Cartoon, about the racist legacy of pre-1970’s Black cartoon characters and the barrier breaking significance of the 1970’s Black cartoon characters.

 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Exhibition Schedule

  • Brown V. Board Of Education National Historic Site – Topeka, KS – July, 2015
  • Bessie Smith Cultural Center – Chattanooga, TN – September 1 – October 31, 2015
  • Purdue University Black Cultural Center – West Lafayette, IN –  February 1 – March 31, 2016
  • VCU Kinetic Imaging – Virginia Commonwealth University – Richmond, VA – August 24 – September 11, 2016

We are currently booking this exhibition through 2019.

 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Historical Overview

Picking up where comic strips left off in the early 20th century, theatrical cartoon film shorts portrayed Blacks in a racially derogatory and stereotypical manner as cannibals, coons, mammies and Stepin Fetchit characters with exaggerated features and ignorant dialect.

From 1900 to 1960, over 600 cartoon shorts featuring Black characters were produced by some of Hollywood’s greatest White animators and biggest film studios. Several famous Black jazz musicians such as Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong were also portrayed as stereotypical caricatures. In the 1950’s, several of these racist cartoons were shown on television. As a result of the civil rights movement, in the 1960’s the racial content of many of these cartoons was edited out or the cartoons were pulled from television altogether.

Notably, The Censored Eleven, a group of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons were banned from broadcast because they were deemed to be too offensive for contemporary audiences. In the case of The Censored Eleven, racist themes were so essential and so completely pervasive in the cartoons that no amount of selective editing could ever make them acceptable for distribution.

After sixty years of negative cartoon images, it wasn’t until the late 1960’s / early 1970’s that Saturday Morning television cartoons started to feature image affirming Black characters with a modern look and positive story lines that delivered culturally relevant messages.

This 1970‘s revolution in how Black animation characters were developed and portrayed in Hollywood represents historic change and the ultimate manifestation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

For the first time characters of all races lived, played and worked together as equals. For the first time Black children could see cartoon characters that looked, talked and acted more realistically like them, such as Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, as well as more positive depictions of their favorite Black music icons and sports heroes like The Jackson 5ive featuring Michael Jackson and his brothers, The Harlem Globetrotters and I Am The Greatest featuring Muhammad Ali.

For the first time, Black children had cartoon role models who taught positive messages like family values, the importance of education, friendship, civic duty, personal responsibility and sportsmanship. For the first time cartoons like Josie and The Pussy Cats, Star Trek and Kid Power featured strong Black female characters and multicultural casts. These cartoons not only changed the way that Black kids saw themselves but the way that white kids saw them as well.

Also, for the first time, Black people like Berry Gordy led development of animated television programming featuring Black characters, from concept through to art creation and production.

During this period, 25 Saturday morning cartoon series, 1 primetime cartoon series, 1 weekday cartoon series, 2 after school cartoons and 16 cartoon specials were produced that included positive Black characters, 17 of which had a predominately Black cast.

Back in the 1970‘s everybody watched the same cartoons. Since then, many of these cartoons have re-aired on cable networks reaching new generations of children. Forty years later, the legacy of these revolutionary cartoons has eclipsed the stereotypical images that came before and have paved the way for a new generation of Black animation like The Proud Family, Little Bill, Static Shock, Fillmore and Doc McStuffins!

Not surprisingly, forty years later, the Black Character Revolution generation is the first to produce and elect the first Black President of the United States. The Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution exhibition features original production cels and drawings and limited edition cels from this turning point in cartoon history where Black and White animators created positive Black characters and Black stories for all to enjoy, including:Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids, The Jackson 5ive, The Harlem Globetrotters, Valerie – Josie and The Pussy Cats; Lt. Uhura – Star Trek Animated Series, Muhammad Ali – I Am The Greatest, Billy Jo Jive – Sesame Street, Verb: That’s What’s Happening – School House Rock and Franklin – Peanuts.

At one time, thousands of hand-painted cels were created and used under the camera to animate every TV and theatrical cartoon. Today’s animation is all computer generated, so hand painted cels represent a lost art form. As relatively little Black animation was produced in the 1970’s and beyond, original production artwork is scarce and rare. Although limited edition reprints of selected scenes from many cartoons and films have been produced, there are very few that have been created from Black animation.

 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Historical Firsts

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution commemorates the 40th anniversaries of 1970’s Saturday morning cartoons that featured positive Black characters for the first time in television history. The animation art exhibition highlights these cartoons that represent several historical firsts, such as:

  • First positive Black male character in a Saturday morning cartoon series – First positive Black male musician character in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Peter Jones – The Hardy Boys (1969)
  • First positive Black cast cartoon – Black cast cartoon special to appear on television – First positive Black cast cartoon / Black cast cartoon special to be created from a comedy routine – Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert primetime special – Based upon Bill Cosby’s 1967 Buck, Buck comedy routine from his Revenge Album (1969)
  • First positive Black male character in a primetime cartoon series – First positive Black athlete character in a primetime cartoon series – Freight Train – Where’s Huddles (1970)
  • First positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series – First positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series featuring Black athletes – Harlem Globetrotters (1970)
  • First positive Black female character in a Saturday morning cartoon series – First positive Black female musician character in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Valerie Brown – Josie And The Pussy Cats (1970)
  • First positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series featuring Black musicians – First television series produced by Motown – Second positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series – The Jackson 5ive (1971)
  • Longest running positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series – Third positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series – Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids (1972-1985)
  • First truly multicultural Saturday morning cartoon series – First positive Saturday morning cartoon series featuring Black characters to be created from a syndicated comic strip – Kid Power – Based upon Morrie Turner’s Wee Pals comic strip (1972)
  • First positive Black characters from a television series, The Flip Wilson Show,  to appear as the same characters in primetime cartoon special – Clerow Wilson And The Miracle Of P.S. 14 (1972)
  • First Schoolhouse Rock episode to feature Black Characters – I Got Six (1973)
  • First Black character to appear in the Peanuts comic strip (introduced July 31, 1968) – First Black character to appear in a Peanuts cartoon special – Franklin Armstrong – There’s No Time For Love Charlie Brown (1973)
  • First positive Black character from a television series to appear as the same character in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Lt. Uhura – Star Trek (1973)
  • First Black male superhero character in a cartoon – second Schoolhouse Rock episode to feature Black Characters – Verb (1974)
  • First Black male superhero character in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Second Black male superhero character – Hong Kong Phooey (1974)
  • First Black male character to appear in Archie comics as a member of the gang – First Black male character to appear as a member of the Archie’s gang in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Chuck Clayton – U.S. Of Archie (1974)
  • First Black female superhero character in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Astrea – Space Sentinels (1977)
  • First positive cartoon series featuring Black characters to be created from a series of children’s books – Billy Jo Jive – Based upon Ted and John Shearer’s Billy Jo Jive book series – Aired as segment during Sesame Street (1978)
  • First Black superhero duo to appear in a Saturday morning cartoon series – First Black Husband and Wife superhero duo to appear in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Micro Woman and Super Stretch – Aired as segment during Tarzan and the Super 7 (1979)
  • First Black superhero team to appear in a Saturday morning cartoon series – Third Saturday morning cartoon series to feature The Harlem Globetrotters – The Super Globetrotters (1979)
  • First time that Black people like Berry Gordy led the development of animated television programming featuring Black characters, from concept through to art creation and production
 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Panel Images

 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Media Coverage

You can read the press releases for Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Panel Exhibition below:

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts was covered by the following local media in Topeka, Kansas:

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts was covered by the following local media in West Lafayette, Indiana:

You can see all of the press and social media coverage of Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts below:

 

Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Additional Information

To learn more about or book the Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Firsts Panel Exhibition please contact the Curator, Sista ToFunky.

Curators are available for Curator’s Talks, Curated Tours, Expert Panels, Lectures. For more information or to book the Curators please contact the Curator, Sista ToFunky.

All rights reserved.

© 2016 Classic Media Inc.: Archie / U.S. Of  Archie, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Hardy Boys, Kid Power, Space Sentinels, Star Trek, Tarzan And The Super 7 / Super Stretch and Micro Woman, The Jackson 5ive
© 2016 Disney: Schoolhouse Rock
© 2016 Peanuts Worldwide LLC: Franklin
© 2016 Sesame Workshop: Billy Jo Jive
© 2016 Soul Train Holdings: Soul Train
© 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.:  Harlem Globetrotters, Hong Kong Phooey, Josie And The Pussycats, Super Globetrotters, Where’s Huddles

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