The beauty of the history of black America and the ways African American leadership has applied to seek full equality and credence in this country is that there have been numerous roads to that goal. Yes, the great social, legal, political and even military movements that have been performed to free African Americans of slavery and attain full citizenship were crucial. And the great black leadership of active personalities like Martin Luther King and George Washington Carver have made matters possible that could never have been possible otherwise.
But not all of the gains in society have been attained by tears and anger. As a matter of fact, some great black leadership can be chanced upon a place one won't think to look. It can be found in the stand up comedy nightspots and on forward thinking TV programs as black comedians helped everyone, black and white, laugh together at the deviations in the races besides cry separately.
A few of the sublime figures in comedy in the last three decades were from the African American community. There are a lot of notable names that come immediately to mind that have exploited the "podium" of a comedy microphone and stage to discuss issues of race, color, discrimination and race relations in such a way that everyone can appreciate their thoughts and attain a common understanding. The names of Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and many more jump out as both very funny entertainers and people who have exemplified the African American community with pride and intelligence that everyone can admire.
Many an African American kid got hope from the idea of rising out of poverty and difficulty to reach greatness since they saw these black entertainers do it. Just by utilizing their success to show the youth of black America that they too can be successful. Couple that with hard work, intelligence, and the willingness to try, they too can be somebody to their own families and to their community. This is genuinely the role of a great role model and these gentlemen have given much hope to youth to bring out something of themselves and make a difference.
Some of the times it was hard for these entertainers to attain equality. When Sammy Davis Junior first was entered to make his valuable contribution to Frank Sinatra's team, many in that society didn't think it was suitable that a black man can perform equally with his white contemporaries. We can be thankful too for the openness of others in the entertainment community that they will not stand to see racism keep talent like Sammy's down. It was Sinatra himself that made a point that Sammy Davis can perform with the "Rat Pack" and in doing so, another door of racism was blown down in this country.
Stories such as this are frequent. The Hollywood scene always has been forward thinking in delivering entertainers based on their talent and not on the color of their skin or other contrived divisions. It has been television as well that has opened roadblocks and afford the discussion of race and color for all of us to absorb. By making it "ok" to discuss race relations, it also makes it ok to see those relations mended and clear the path for reconciliation and healing.
A lot of times while a black comedian is making his crowd laugh, he might say "the important thing is we discuss these things and laugh about them together". And that's the important thing. We can be thankful we have had such outstanding leadership in entertainment to get black and white together in a way that carries off hatred and hostility. Because it's hard to hate your brother when you're busy laughing together with him.