Black History Month at the Paley Center for Media


February is Black History Month so I decided to check out what the Paley Center for Media had on display in celebration of African-American diversity in media.

The first floor gallery of the Paley Center houses The Power of Our Presence – An Exhibition Celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of the ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards. This exhibit features event photography from the televised luncheon from the last nine years, a replica of the luncheon’s table settings, video montages of red carpet interviews of past award honorees, various award memorabilia (such as the first design of the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Award and the updated Essence Black Women in Hollywood Award). Costume design memorabilia from current television shows, such as the famous Burberry white coat worn by Kerry Washington on Scandal, and Tracee Ellis Ross’s medical scrubs from the television show, black-ish, are also on display here.


The second floor of the Paley showcases large photos of successful African-Americans in media. Visitors to the Paley are encouraged to view digital presentations of African-American achievements in television in individual television pods and to visit the Paley’s Media Research Library’s large archival collection of African-American media.


While a children’s craft activity center was set up to encourage creating superhero art out of historical African-American figures, parents were encouraged to admire Al Hirschfeld’s caricature artwork from The New Yorker and the New York Times, and Juan Ortiz’s speculative graphic design artwork for Star Trek: The Original Series.

While I immediately recognized that the Hirschfeld and Ortiz displays were not related to the celebration of Black History Month, it took me a good twenty minutes to appreciate Paley’s sense of inclusion, or an all-encompassing tone of diversity, in its gallery space, by including artwork in different mediums, and for all cultural backgrounds, together. A Paley docent later informed me that these art pieces are part of Paley’s Permanent Collection are are always on display at the Paley Center; they have simply been relocated temporarily to another room to allow for the larger-than-life photo portraits of the African-American figures in television to be displayed more prominently to celebrate Black History Month.



Before leaving the vicinity, one of Paley’s downstairs docents invited me, along with other venue visitors, to return to the Paley Center for Media at another time to further celebrate the African-American experience in television as there will be special screenings of television programs from its own Archive. If interested, the schedule of the free screenings are listed below:

February 5 and February 12:
12:15 p.m. The Proud Family,”Party” 2002 episode;
12:39 p.m. The Muppet Show,Lena Horne 1976 episode;
1:04 p.m. The Bernie Mack Show, “The Night of Terror” 2005 episode;
1:27 p.m.  Julia’s “Am I, Pardon the Expression, Blacklisted?” 1968 episode;
2:43 p.m. In Living Color “Homey D. Clown” 1990 episode;
3:07 p.m. ABC Novel for Television: Roots, 1977 Premiere episode of the Mini-Series;

February 19 and February 26:
12:15 p.m. Sesame Street: “Big Bird’s Pen Pal” (2002);
1:16 p.m. Justice League: “Legends Part 1” (2002);
1:39 p.m. Justice League: “Legends Part 2” (2002);
2:02 p.m. Teen Titans: “Car Trouble” (2003);
2:24 p.m. The Oprah Winfrey Show: “Malcolm X” (1992);
3:09 p.m. Paris: “Dead Men Don’t Kill” (1979); and
4:00 p.m. Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Piano Lesson (1995).


The Paley Center for Media in LA
465 North Beverly Drive,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Admission is Free and Open to the Public.

Current Exhibition:
The Power of Our Presence: Celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of the ‘Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards’
February 8, 2017 – February 24, 2017

© Copyright 2012-2017 by Deborah Kuzma, and All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah Kuzma, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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