Wednesday Open Thread | Black Women in Television: Isabel Sanford & Esther Rolle

You can’t talk about Black women in television in the 1970’s without talking about Weezie Jefferson and Florida Evans.
Weezie Jefferson was the first time I saw a Black woman on television that a) didn’t have to work and b) had her own maid. Florida Evans was the Black mother in the Projects, but she had a husband, and was a loving and devoted mother/wife.


Subjects: Isabel Sanford, Sherman Hemsley, Mike Evans (Top) Program: "The Jeffersons" Premiering: Saturday, Jan. 18, 8:30-9:00 PM, EST

Subjects: Isabel Sanford, Sherman Hemsley, Mike Evans (Top)
Program: “The Jeffersons”
Premiering: Saturday, Jan. 18, 8:30-9:00 PM, EST

The Jeffersons is an American sitcom that was broadcast on CBS from January 18, 1975, through July 2, 1985, lasting 11 seasons and a total of 253 episodes. The show was produced by the T.A.T. Communications Company from 1975 to 1982 and by Embassy Television from 1982 to 1985. The Jeffersons is one of the longest-running sitcoms in the history of American television.[1][2]

The show focuses on George and Louise Jefferson, an affluent African-American couple living in New York City. The show was launched as the second spin-off of All in the Family, on which the Jeffersons had been the neighbors of Archie and Edith Bunker.

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The show was the creation of prolific television producer Norman Lear. However, it was less sharply political in tone than some of his other shows. The Jeffersons eventually evolved into more of a traditional sitcom, relying more on the characters’ interactions with one another than on explicitly political dialogue or storylines. It did, however, tackle a few controversial topics, including racism, suicide, gun control and adult illiteracy. Also, the words “nigger” and “honky” were used occasionally, especially during the earlier seasons.

The Jeffersons had one spin-off, titled Checking In. The short-lived series was centered on the Jeffersons’ housekeeper, Florence. Checking In only lasted four episodes, after which Florence returned to The Jeffersons. The Jeffersons also shared continuity with the show E/R, which featured Lynne Moody, who made a guest appearance in one episode of The Jeffersons as George’s niece. Sherman Hemsley guest-starred as George in two episodes of the series, which lasted for one season.

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The show ended in controversy after CBS abruptly canceled the series without allowing for a proper series finale. The cast was not informed until after the July 2, 1985, episode “Red Robins”, and actor Sherman Hemsley said he found out that the show was canceled by reading it in the newspaper.[3] Sanford, who heard about the cancellation through her cousin who read about it in the tabloids, has publicly stated that she found the cancellation with no proper finale to be disrespectful on the network’s part.[4] The cast reunited in a stage play based on the sitcom. In the 1996 series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the Jeffersons made a guest appearance and bought the house from the Banks family. In an episode of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne in 2011, Sherman Hemsley and Marla Gibbs reprised their roles of George Jefferson and Florence Johnston.

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Good Times is an American sitcom that originally aired from February 8, 1974, until August 1, 1979, on CBS. It was created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans, and developed by Norman Lear, the series’ primary executive producer. Good Times is a spin-off of Maude, which is itself a spin-off of All in the Family.


Florida and James Evans and their three children live in a rented project apartment, 17C, at 963 N. Gilbert Ave., in a housing project (implicitly the infamous Cabrini–Green projects, shown in the opening and closing credits but never mentioned by name on the show)[1][2] in a poor, black neighborhood in inner-city Chicago. Florida and James’ children are James Jr., also known as “J.J.”, Thelma, and Michael. When the series begins, J.J. and Thelma are seventeen and sixteen years old, respectively, and Michael, called “the militant midget” by his father due to his passionate activism, is eleven years old. Their exuberant neighbor, and Florida’s best friend, is Willona Woods, a recent divorcée who works at a boutique. Their building superintendent is Nathan Bookman (seasons 2–4), to whom James, Willona and later J.J. refer as “Buffalo Butt”, or, even more derisively, “Booger”.

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The characters originated on the sitcom Maude as Florida and Henry Evans, with Florida employed as Maude Findlay’s housekeeper in Tuckahoe, New York and Henry employed as a firefighter. When producers decided to feature the Florida character in her own show, they applied retroactive changes to the characters’ history. Henry’s name became James, there is no mention of Maude, and the couple now live in Chicago.[3][4]

Episodes of Good Times deal with the characters’ attempts to survive in a high rise project building in Chicago, despite their poverty. When he is not unemployed, James Evans is a man of pride who often stated he would not accept charity. He usually works at least two jobs simultaneously, from a wide variety such as dishwasher, construction laborer, etc. When he has to, he plays pool in order to hustle money, though Florida disapproves of this.

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39 Responses to Wednesday Open Thread | Black Women in Television: Isabel Sanford & Esther Rolle

  1. Liza says:

    Is Hillary still a populist candidate or did she give up on that? Bill is looking mighty old.

    Since '01, Hillary and Bill Clinton collected $35M for speeches to financial businesses— (@twittlesis) November 25, 2015


  2. rikyrah says:

    What If Trump Wins?
    Republicans may have another Goldwater on their hands.
    November 24, 2015

    On Monday, the John Kasich campaign released a remarkable video in which one of the Ohio governor’s supporters, Colonel Tom Moe, a Vietnam veteran and former POW, speaks against Donald Trump by paraphrasing Martin Niemoller’s famous “First they came” speech about the dangers of apathy in the face of Nazism. “You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with their government because you are not one,” Moe says with Midwestern calm. “And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you are not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump says it is okay to rough up black protesters, because you are not one. And you might not care if Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you are not one. But think about this: If he keeps going, and he actually becomes president, he might just get around to you, and you better hope there is someone left to help you.”

  3. Cornbread, potato salad, pasta salad made. 1 Turkey in the oven and broccoli is on cooking. Next up wash greens. I’m rolling…

  4. rikyrah says:

    who the HELL puts MAYO on JELLO?????

    What mind even came up with that combination?

  5. rikyrah says:

    Thank you everyone for your prayers.
    My sister will be coming home this afternoon.
    She is a lot better.

  6. rikyrah says:

    american tribalism: road to rwanda redux
    By zizi2 5 Comments

    by @zizii2
    I have been spooked these last 10 days by the insanity that erupted here in the US since the Paris terrorist attacks. I wanted to give words to my thoughts. But I froze. Then I rediscovered this piece I began writing in April 2013, but had abandoned for being too alarmist! If only I knew….

    Here is the piece completed with a few edits…


    rwanda: a haunting lesson
    April 6 marked the (21st) anniversary of the launch of the genocidal nightmare in the central African country of Rwanda that ended 100 days later with 800,000 people dead, and a nation scarred deeply. That was 11.4% of the total population of 7 million. Nearly three-quarters of those massacred were Tutsis who comprised 14% of the entire population.

    The word “anniversary” seems inappropriate because although it is technically a neutral term it still invokes positive associations and anticipation. No one should anticipate a genocide nor look forward to marking milestones in its aftermath. Yet mark, we must. The lessons are not simply framed in dog-eared history tomes or award winning films about a bygone tragedy. The lessons are here. With us. Today.


    In societies wracked by mass economic, social and political faultlines the signs are always there for a Rwanda Redux, or a Srebrenica. Hate Radio. Divide and conquer. Nihilism. Opportunistic politicians and cultural loudmouths. Group resentment. Grievance. Silence and apathy from the majority population. Now, all of these do not a genocide trigger. But they exist to be manipulated if conditions ripen.

    “The Rwandan genocide resulted from the conscious choice of the elite to promote hatred and fear to keep itself in power. This small, privileged group first set the majority against the minority to counter a growing political opposition within Rwanda. Then, faced with RPF success on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, these few power holders transformed the strategy of ethnic division into genocide. They believed that the extermination campaign would reinstate the solidarity of the Hutu under their leadership and help them win the war, or at least improve their chances of negotiating a favorable peace. They seized control of the state and used its authority to carry out the massacre. (UnitedHumanRights.Org)”


    The images many of us remember from Rwanda in 1994 are the International News montages of decapitated bodies loaded onto construction trucks, machete-wielding “tribesmen” chanting death to their enemies, in-between commentary from western Reporters. To our glazed eyes, all we heard were “Hutu”, “Tutsi” “tribal conflict”, “United Nations”, “evacuating Westerners”.

    What we never fathomed was how eerily familiar the political soundtrack in the run up to that horror would become for us here in the US two decades later. Sure, the United States and 1994 Rwanda are structurally and culturally different. We like to think the former possesses more resilient political institutions and robust public spaces for exercising dissenting opinion, than the latter. The point here is not whether the fear mongering being spewed by politicians and radio shock jocks will lead to Americans hacking each other down with machetes. It is about the capacity for unfiltered HATE to saturate the public sphere without consequence for the peddlers, to the point of being rewarded with political ascendancy. We naively thought those things belonged elsewhere or in history books.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Leah Binkovitz ✔ @leahbink
    ICYMI: last night there were more shots fired at #4thPrecinctShutDown. No injuries reported.

    Leah Binkovitz ✔ @leahbink
    My sister @poemsabouttoast was telling me about the old community center that stood where the 4th precinct is today.

    Leah Binkovitz ✔ @leahbink
    Known as The Way, the center was the center of black life in North Minneapolis (distinct from the south side community).

  8. rikyrah says:

    FOX 5 DC ✔ @fox5dc
    Patti Labelle invites viral singer James Wright Chanel to Thanksgiving dinner at her house!

  9. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

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