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DramatistDreamer

'Bird of an Iron Feather' - Television's First Black Soap Opera That Was Too Hot for Television

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Years ago, We Love Soaps may have done a short profile on this show but I remember reading about it somewhere and wondering whether I'd ever be able to see it.  

I think there may have been a radio play that was actually the first soap opera with a Black cast before this but Bird of an Iron Feather had to be the first on TV.

 

I meant to post this ages ago but somehow never got around to it. Interesting read.

 

'Bird of an Iron Feather' - Television's First Black Soap Opera That Was Too Hot for Television

 

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There's another episode in the link. It looks like it downloads to the computer though rather than you watching. What I can do later is upload it on Youtube unlisted if you want to see it and not have to download it.

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28 minutes ago, DRW50 said:

There's another episode in the link. It looks like it downloads to the computer though rather than you watching. What I can do later is upload it on Youtube unlisted if you want to see it and not have to download it.

 

It must be a long day because I'm not sure what you mean. I don't have to download anything.

 

Also, I found another episode through the PBS website. I'm not going to bother to embed it, people can do a quick search if they're interested. LOL.

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OMG. Why am I just now hearing about this?!

 

@DRW50, thanks for posting the original thread's link. I found the second episode with the students protesting to be some of the most powerful things I've ever seen. Sad too b/c many of the things that Maybelle and her peers were fighting for change for is something that we (as African Americans) still have to fight for today. 

 

At a time when racial climates are hot, why hasn't this show been revived in some form for modern times? 

 

Does anyone know how many episodes were produced altogether?

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9 hours ago, DramatistDreamer said:

 

It must be a long day because I'm not sure what you mean. I don't have to download anything.

 

Also, I found another episode through the PBS website. I'm not going to bother to embed it, people can do a quick search if they're interested. LOL.

 

When I tried to play it on the site it just ended up automatically downloading for me. 

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@Nothin'ButAttitude There's another episode called His-Story and Mine (only 2 were preserved due to 'wiping') on the PBS website.

 

Web Extra: “Bird of the Iron Feather”

 

@DRW50 Hm, everything video plays fine for me, without having to download a single video.  Maybe it's your browser settings? Wait, are you talking about the videos in original thread from years ago? I didn't try those.

Edited by DramatistDreamer

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12 hours ago, Nothin'ButAttitude said:

Does anyone know how many episodes were produced altogether?

 

According to Part 2 the discussion in the Professors video I posted, there were about 24 episodes (there was supposed to be a maximum of 35 on the grant provided by the Ford Foundation), only 2 episodes were known to have survived.

 

Also, according to this article Remembering a public TV drama that delved into lives of black Chicagoans, NBC attempted to make a remake/revival without Richard Durham's permission and Durham took them to court.

 

Also fascinating is the fact that there is a connection to Irna Phillips who suggested to WTTW's program director that the concept of a soap opera could work on PBS.

 

 

The real life event that inspired the series.

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Edited by DramatistDreamer

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@DramatistDreamer, wait so Durham gave NBC permission to make a revival and then took them court? If so, that's weird. Also, do you know when they tried to do a revival? Was this a few years after the show ceased in 1970? 

 

Seriously though, this show needs to be revived in some capacity for modern day times b/c many of the themes I've seen in the 2 episodes occur today. 

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16 minutes ago, Nothin'ButAttitude said:

@DramatistDreamer, wait so Durham gave NBC permission to make a revival and then took them court? If so, that's weird. Also, do you know when they tried to do a revival? Was this a few years after the show ceased in 1970? 

 

Seriously though, this show needs to be revived in some capacity for modern day times b/c many of the themes I've seen in the 2 episodes occur today. 

 

Nope. Sorry typo, I fixed it. The article stated that it was without Durham's permission.

 

Unfortunately, some of the issues that the production faced back then are also with us.  I don't think there is a show on American network TV that has a majority Black crew behind the camera.  

I also think the aspect of network interference is still a very real issue.

 

If you look at the TV landscape, there are currently comedies with a Black cast but how many dramas do you see that deal with contemporary issues like police brutality, protests, BLM, etc?  

Unfortunately, even today, I could see a show like this getting a lot of pushback. Even in 2017!

Edited by DramatistDreamer

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Oh OK. Thanks for clearing that up, @DramatistDreamer. Not surprised that a network would try and go a shady route to get a show in their possession. 

 

If I am not mistaken, I think Rosewood and Shots Fired both have a substantially large amount of African American crew members behind the camera. 

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16 minutes ago, Nothin'ButAttitude said:

Oh OK. Thanks for clearing that up, @DramatistDreamer. Not surprised that a network would try and go a shady route to get a show in their possession. 

 

If I am not mistaken, I think Rosewood and Shots Fired both have a substantially large amount of African American crew members behind the camera. 

 

Didn't Rosewood get cancelled though?  Shots Fired was a limited series so it has already ended its production run, I believe.

 

Perhaps, it might be possible on Netflix but imagine a dramatic series that began with a character based on Trayvon Martin narrating and looking back from beyond the grave.

 

Somehow I think it would be awfully difficult to get that on air.

Edited by DramatistDreamer

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