Ending the Whitewash

The N.A.A.C.P. cried boycott to grab TV's attention on race, but quiet diplomacy may get more results

For decades now, especially in the past couple of years, black actors have complained about being snubbed for starring roles on TV. So after the TV networks announced their fall lineups last spring, Kweisi Mfume arrived in Hollywood with his own script proposal. The N.A.A.C.P. president cast himself as the leading man, a swaggering yet politically correct Terminator of all things racist about Tinseltown. His first mission: to strong-arm the networks into hiring more minorities to work in front of and behind the cameras. Mfume's early salvos had the fire of civil rights rhetoric of the '60s, as he railed against...

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