Skip to main content

Hobson, Charles, circa 1970

 Item — Multiple Containers

Scope and Contents

Filmmaker Charles Hobson, founder and artistic head of Vanguard Documentaries, delivered a lecture to the Black Experience in the Arts course (2015-0002/RR179 reel 1) (2015-0002/RR180 reel 2). Charles Hobson, an Emmy Award-winning producer who helped shatter racial stereotypes by delivering a black perspective that had been missing from early television programming. Class information, questions and announcements take place for several minutes, including a statement by Steve Bishop of the Student for a Democratic Society (SDS). Mr. Hobson's lecture begins about timestamp 0:14:09 and his topic was the inclusion of the Black man in culture, starting with music and ending with film.

Unfortunately, no date has been provided to indicate when Hobson spoke (Bishop references trials in Willimantic and GE protest; racial incident on campus, HDB is president; "Gulley Hall incident; abolish ROTC; drop injunction against Professor Roach (2/1969) indicate this lecture was very early in the offering of the Black Experience in the Arts class).


  • circa 1970

Conditions Governing Access

Links to digitized content are included in the finding aid.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Hobson, an Emmy Award-winning producer who helped shatter racial stereotypes by delivering a black perspective that had been missing from early television programming. As a producer for WBAI radio in the mid-1960s, Hobson was approached to produce a news program about Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he had grown up. Robert F. Kennedy had conceived a television series that would show the “real” Bedford Stuyvesant – a Brooklyn neighborhood of working families, students, artists and professionals. Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant came to New York’s airwaves in 1968, introducing white audiences to everyday life in black communities; a place that had been largely invisible, or defined by negative images, during the first decades of TV’s evolution.

At the time, the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn was one of the largest and most dynamic African-American communities in the country – 400,000 people made their home within its three square miles. But Bed-Stuy became synonymous with crime and poverty when the mainstream media focused on urban unrest during the 1960s. Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant decided to change all that.

His programs not only provided a singular perspective on contemporary issues; they also gave an unfiltered voice to people who had been neglected when television was struggling through its adolescence. Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant, which ran from 1968 until 1970 on WNEW-TV in New York, has been called the city’s first regular program written, produced and presented by black people. Charles Hobson captured his childhood neighborhood in black and white — local celebrities, activists, musicians, and regular residents all made appearances on the weekly show. The program ran for two years, and Hobson moved on to produce shows like Black Journal and Like It Is.

Many of his productions aired on PBS and THIRTEEN, where he also served as director of market planning in 1989. As senior vice president for international co-productions at the PBS station WETA in Washington, DC, Hobson produced From Jumpstreet: A Story of Black Music (1980) and The Africans (1986).

He later founded the production company Vanguard Documentaries, which created Porgy and Bess: An American Voice (1998) and Harlem in Montmartre: Paris Jazz (2009) for Great Performances; and Treasures of New York: The Flatiron Building (2014) for WLIW, which is streaming now; and The Five-Finger Discount (2017).

Hobson died in February 2020 at the age of 83.

[ /]


2 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings ) : RR 179-180 2 reels, Side A-0:35:01, Side B-0:35:02, Side C-0:13:58; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. The recordings were combined for ease of listening. The combined run time of the digital recording is 1:23:52.

Language of Materials

From the Series: English