1978 – “Diff’rent Strokes” premieres

If the phrase “wha chu talkin’ about Willis?” doesn’t make you cringe, you were presumably born after this show went off the air. Well, I suppose you might have liked it. Someone must have – it ran for eight seasons, and made stars out of the kids in it. That’s right, Gary Coleman was a star for a while.

Leaving the snark aside, “Diff’rent Strokes” was a fairly decent example of the American sitcom, and it did make a lot of important points about racism, albeit mostly in a humourous way. On the other hand, it also gave airtime to Nancy Reagan so she could push her “Just Say No” campaign, so no one agreed with everything it had to say.

Except that it really does take different strokes to move the world.

Referenced in:

TV Party — Black Flag

1979 – 5 protestors are killed in Greensboro, North Carolina

It is a sad feature of American history that two elements of it routinely succeed in drowning out the finer qualities and ideals for which that nation stands. These two elements are hubris and handguns.

The Greensboro Massacre is a case in point. The deaths of five civil rights marchers occurred in an 88 second long explosion of gunfire from counter-protestors – largely members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. But it’s never as simple as the good guys and the bad guys.

The two groups had clashed for months previous to the massacre, and both sides – imbued with the hubris that comes from knowing that when your cause is noble and true and just you don’t have to be – were to blame for the rising tensions. Furthermore, at least one witness claims that the first shots were fired by the civil rights marchers – and members of the KKK and the Nazis claimed at their trials that an undercover BATF agent had encouraged them to take their guns along to the rally.

Whoever is to blame – and it seems there’s plenty for all in this mess – the shootings were a senseless tragedy. Captured on film by news crews, their broadcast around the world showed that for all the civil rights advances of the Sixties, there was still a lot of work to be done before the goal was reached.

Referenced in:

88 Seconds… & Still Counting — Pop Will Eat Itself
88 Seconds (I Wanna Go To The Rodeo) — The Othermothers
88 Seconds in Greensboro — Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark