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Black History Month: TV Drama Highlights

Feb 13, 2006  •  Post A Comment

I Spy (NBC)

Sept. 15, 1965


Bill Cosby, as Alexander Scott, was the first black actor in a leading dramatic role on prime time.



Ironside (NBC)

Sept. 14, 1967


Don Mitchell played a bodyguard and assistant to the series’ main character, wheelchair-bound detective Robert Ironside.



The Outcasts (ABC)

Sept. 23, 1968


Otis Young starred as Jemal David, a former slave who tracked down criminals with a former slave owner in the post-Civil War era.



The Mod Squad (ABC)

Sept. 24, 1968


Clarence Williams III played Linc, TV’s first black militant hero and one of three undercover cops who led the series.



Room 222 (ABC)

Sept. 17, 1969


Lloyd Haynes played a history teacher and Denise Nicholas played a guidance counselor to black and white high school students.



Shaft (CBS)

Oct. 9, 1973


In this 90-minute series, Richard Roundtree played a black detective with a white sidekick.



Get Christie Love (ABC)

Sept. 11, 1974


Working undercover, Teresa Graves’ character was TV’s first black female cop.



The White Shadow (CBS)

Nov. 27, 1978


Kevin Hooks, Byron Stewart and Thomas Carter played youths on an inner-city high school basketball team with a white coach, played by Ken Howard



Battlestar Galactica (ABC)

Sept. 17, 1978


Herb Jefferson Jr. and Terry Carter were soldiers with a fleet of starships seeking the lost colony known as Earth.



Dynasty (ABC)

Jan. 12, 1981


Diahann Carroll joins the hit series during May 1984 sweeps, playing Dominique Deveraux, an illegitimate daughter of the Carrington family seeking to claim her right to the family fortune.



The A-Team (NBC)

Jan. 23, 1983


Mr. T was a tough, loudmouth sidekick hunting down the bad guys in this dramatic action adventure.



Miami Vice (NBC)

Sept. 16, 1984


Philip Michael Thomas co-starred as Det. Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs, one half of a detective team.



Fortune Dane (ABC)

Feb. 15, 1986


Carl Weathers played Fortune Dane, a former football hero and police detective who solved crimes for a tough female mayor.



L.A. Law (NBC)

Oct. 3, 1986


Blair Underwood joined in 1987 as lawyer Jonathan Rollins in this drama about the work and personal lives of the staff at a major Los Angeles law firm.



21 Jump Street (Fox)

April 12, 1987


Holly Robinson and others starred as youthful-looking cops working undercover at a high school. Steven Williams played Capt. Adam Fuller.



I’ll Fly Away (NBC)

Oct. 7, 1991


Regina Taylor portrayed Lilly Harper, a 1950s housekeeper for the family of a Southern lawyer.



City of Angels (CBS)

Jan. 16, 2000


Dr. Ben Turner (Blair Underwood) was acting chief of surgery in this medical drama that examined the lives of the doctors and nurses at Los Angeles’ Angels of Mercy Hospital.



Boston Public (Fox)

Oct. 23, 2000


This look at the personal and professional lives of teachers working at a midsize high school starred Chi McBride as Principal Steven Harper.



Kojak (USA)

March 25, 2005


He’s bald. He’s back. And this time he’s black. Ving Rhames had the title role in this updated detective series Telly Savalas made popular in the ’70s.



Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)

March 27, 2005


Created by Shonda Rhimes, this hit medical drama has three leading African American stars: Isaiah Washington, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra Wilson.



-Sheree R. Curry



Note: Dates indicate when series premiered.



Sources: TV.com; imdb.com; J. Fred MacDonald, “Blacks and White TV”; Donald Bogle, “Blacks in American Films and Television”