Hey Hey Hey! New Animation-Inspired Exhibit, Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution to open at The Northwest African American Museum on November 22, 2014.

The exhibit contains over 60 pieces of black animated art from the 1970s from popular shows like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Schoolhouse Rock, and the Harlem Globetrotters.

January 13, 2014—The Northwest African American Museum is pleased to present its latest exhibition, Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution, a nostalgic foray into the animated images of the black characters of popular cartoons of the 1970s. The exhibit will be housed in our Northwest Gallery, on display from November 22, 2014 – May 3, 2015.

Peanuts Franklin Original Production Cel

Co-curated by cartoon aficionados Pamela Thomas and Loreen Williamson, Funky Turns 40 includes over sixty pieces of animated art from the Museum Of UnCut Funk, an online collection developed by Thomas and commemorates the 40th anniversaries of popular 1970’s Saturday morning cartoons that featured positive Black characters for the first time in television history. “I believe these cartoons are national treasures,” says Thomas. “They were seen by a generation of children and not only changed the way that Black kids saw themselves but the way White kids saw them as well”.

Star Trek - Lt. Uhura - Original Production Cel

It was during the late 1960s / early 1970s that Saturday morning television cartoons began to feature Black animated characters in a positive and realistic manner. Fueled by the Civil Rights movement and the over-whelming commercial success of Black musicians and athletes during this time period, television producers began to explore projects with a wide, multicultural appeal. This new generation of Black characters were stars of their own series with a modern look and with contemporary story lines that delivered culturally relevant messages.

Fat Albert Original Production Cel 3

Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids paved the way for a host of Black characters and shows featuring music icons, sports heroes, and multicultural casts like The Jackson 5ive, Josie and The Pussy Cats, The Harlem Globetrotters, and I Am The Greatest (featuring Muhammad Ali). Even franchises like the overtly white Hardy Boys series and Super Friends began to introduce positive Black characters who worked side by side with their white counterparts. For the first time, children saw cartoon characters that looked and talked like real Black people, full of warmth, humor, and intelligence. These shows empowered a generation of children with cartoon role models who promoted family values, education, friendship, civic duty, personal responsibility and sportsmanship in fun, vibrant bursts of animation. The production of these cartoons also employed Black animators, musicians and actors – jobs that had traditionally been filled by non-blacks who often approximated their understanding of Black culture. It was also during this time that prominent African Americans like Bill Cosby and Berry Gordy led the development of animated television programming featuring Black characters, from concept through to art creation and production. Practically every piece of art in Funky Turns 40 features many black characters achieving historic firsts in television:

Peter Jones – The Hardy Boys (1969) – First positive Black male character in a Saturday morning cartoon series

Valerie Brown – Josie And The Pussy Cats (1970) – First positive Black female character in a Saturday morning cartoon series

Harlem Globetrotters (1970) – First positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series and first positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series featuring Black athletes

The Jackson 5ive (1971) – First positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series featuring Black musicians

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972-1985) – Longest running positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series.

Verb – Schoolhouse Rock (1974) – First Black male superhero character in a cartoon – second Schoolhouse Rock episode to feature Black Characters.

Astrea – Space Sentinels (1977) – First Black female superhero character in a Saturday morning cartoon series

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!

Josie And The Pussycats - Valerie Original Production Cel

Release used with permission from the Schomburg Center of Research in Black Culture.

About the Northwest African American Museum:
NAAM is a nonprofit organization and the only museum in the Northwest dedicated to exhibiting the art, history, and culture of people of African descent. The Museum is housed in the historic Colman School building located in the heart of the Central District just above the I-90 lid overlooking Jimi Hendrix Park.

NAAM is a vibrant community gathering place with 19,000 sq. ft. featuring three main galleries, a gift shop, genealogy center, and rental spaces to host private events and public programs. Our exhibits and programs explore the richness and diversity that echo the varied interests of the Black community. NAAM always has something new and relevant to offer the Northwest and beyond.

Opening Event: NAAMTASTIC Voyage with DJ Riz Rollins, DJ Sassy Black and on Thursday, November 22nd, 7pm – 12am

Northwest African American Museum
2300 S Massachusetts Street
Seattle, 98144 WA
www.naamnw.org Twitter: @naamnw Facebook: Northwest African American Museum

Recent press for Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution
* Ebony.com
* New York Times
* USA Today Black History Month Supplement
* Fast Company Design
* Complex Art + Design
* Hyperallergic
* Essence Magazine – Covered in-book and in the tablet edition of the August issue of the magazine
* Chicago Reporter
* Chicago Reader
* SoulTrain.com


Contact: Leilani Lewis

Communications and Marketing

Office 206.518.6000 x 108 or cell 206.290.3100


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