Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why Come There Ain't no black People in Mayberry?

[In honor of Andy Griffith (1926-2012) I am reposting this 2008 piece.]

There is a real historical point to be made here. The Andy Griffith Show ran from 1960 to 1968, at the very height of the Civil Rights movement. For millions of white Americans part of the appeal of the show was its nostalgic portrayal of an idyllic South, one without bus boycotts or sit-ins or indeed any black people at all.

How did I find this? Well, today Kevin Levin over at Civil War Memory posted a little clip from The Andy Griffin Show in which it is revealed that no one in the town of Mayberry seems to know what the Emancipation Proclamation might be. Well why should they, I thought, there were no blacks in Mayberry. Suddenly it occurred to me how strange it was that the most popular TV series ever set in the American south didn't have any black people. Or did it?

I Googled up this defensive fan FAQ: "There are MANY towns in the south without black people. Also, you are wrong that there were no blacks in Mayberry. If you watch the people in the background, you'll see several black townspeople walking down the sidewalk and being a part of town."

That FAQ included a link to the delightful African-Americans in Mayberry page, where some fellow posted a bunch of screen captures, mostly of street scenes in which some black person is walking past the main character. Red arrows helpfully point out the passing blacks, as we see below:

No comments: