In 1963, Sidney Poitier won an Academy Award as best actor for his performance in “Lilies of the Field”. This made him the first male actor of African American descent to win an Academy Award for Best Actor. He also received a Golden Globe that year for his role in the picture.
Jackson Brothers was formed in 1964 under the idea of Jackie, Tito and Jermaine. Marlon and Michael later joined and changed the name to Jackson Five. They received plenty of buzz through talent shows and TV circuits. In 1969, they left their record label Steeltown Records to join Motown.
Bill Cosby became the first Black lead actor on television in the drama “I Spy” in 1965. The show was a secret-agent adventure series that ran for three seasons on NBC. The show broke grounds for African American actors when Cosby took one of the lead roles. It originally called for an older actor, but producer Sheldon Leonard hired Cosby after seeing Cosby perform stand-up comedy on a talk show.
In 1967, Jimi Hendrix made a debut at the Monterey International Pop Festival after releasing his album, “Are You Experienced?”. The album featured diverse musical styles, including Blues tracks, R&B, Post-Modern and Rock. The album spent 33 weeks on UK charts and peaked at number two.
Actress Diahann Carroll won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series in 1968 for her role in the sitcom “Julia”. Carroll was the first African American actress to star in her own television series, which didn’t portray her as a domestic worker.
The first interracial kiss was seen on network television in an episode of “Star Trek” in 1968. The scene was a romantic moment between African American actress Nichelle Nichols and white Canadian actor William Shatner.
Gordon Parks was the first African American film director to make a Hollywood film. In 1969, Parks wrote and directed “The Learning Tree”. The film was about a young African American growing up in rural Kansas during the 1920s and early 1930s, when racial discrimination was prevalent. The movie chronicles Parks semi-autobiographical novel released 1964.
In 1972, “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” premiered as the first cartoon wit an all Black cast. The animated series was created and hosted by Bill Cosby. He was the voice of Fat Albert and several other characters in the series. Cosby has stated the cartoon was based off his remembrances of his childhood friends and situations. Each episode featured an educational lesson and musical session. The show ran until 1985.
Pam Grier played Foxy Brown in one of the most famous American blaxploitation films to be released in 1974. A blaxploitation film consists of a genre that focuses just on African Americans. Grier’s character was “a whole lot of woman” showcasing relentless power and beauty while taking down major villains. Her role was essential to providing a different view of African American femininity in film.
Beverly Johnson was known and labeled as the first Black supermodel after she graced the cover of Vogue Magazine in August 1974. Her appearance on the cover changed the industry by showing diversity in what beauty was ideally in the U.S. fashion industry. In 1975, she became the first African American woman to appear on the French edition of Elle Magazine.