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Charles Hobson lectures at the University of Connecticut

 Digital Record


  • Creation: Undated


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).

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.

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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.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US