Nat (King) Cole Decries TV's “Timidity” in Using Negro Performers

Oct. 23, 1961 - Nat (King) Cole (pictured with his daughter Natalie in 1955) attacked the television industry today for what he called its timidity in using Negro performers. The Negro pop singer and pianist declared that the networks are afraid to use top Negro stars except for guest appearances because of sponsor pressure. The advertisers, he claimed, pay too much attention to the comparatively small number of bigots who write letters, but ignore the vast number of Americans who have no prejudice and do not write letters. “You take a Negro like Dick Gregory,” he continued. All the critics say he is great. Television will give Joey Bishop a show and Bob Newhart a show. But they won’t give Dick Gregory a show. He’s a Negro and so he does guest appearances. The trouble is that the people who run these shows do the thinking for the American people before the people get a chance to think for themselves.”

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