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HBCU Roundtable Discussion with the Cast of Black-ish

By Zoë Huey, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, October 21, 2020, the popular TV show Black-ish returned for the premiere of its seventh season. The Emmy-award winning show is back and continuing to tackle heavy topics relating to the Black American experience. At the beginning of the season, viewers can expect to see how the Johnsons are dealing with the pandemic.

In honor of this long-awaited return, a few of the show’s cast members sat down for a roundtable discussion with student representatives from various HBCUs including Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, and Texas Southern University. The students met for an intimate discussion with actors Laurence Fishburne, Anthony Anderson, Marcus Scribner, Marsai Martin, and Miles Brown to get insight on what it is like being a part of the show, what can be expected in this upcoming season, and their thoughts on the current state of race relations in our country.

The legendary Laurence Fishburne, who plays Pops’s character, believes the messages conveyed through the show have had a positive impact on non-Black viewers.

“I think [the show] has given them a window into some of what our experience is like, and it has allowed us to have dialogue around these issues. It has given them an opportunity to embrace our humanity a bit more fully,” said Fishburn.

Marcus Scribner, who plays Dre Jr., expresses his appreciation for the celebrities who have utilized their fame and influence to speak out on injustice against Black people.

“I’m proud of all of our fellow athletes and actors, people that are using their platform to raise their voices. You hear people say ‘shut up and dribble’ to people like LeBron who is using his platform to create positive change in education, prison reform,” said Scribner.

On the issue of whether they feel pressure by taking on such tough issues, Marsai Martin and Miles Brown, who play Diane and Jack Johnson, have mixed feelings.

“I wouldn’t say pressure, but I would say I’m a perfectionist… I make sure I’m saying the right things and that it comes out in the way that I want it to,” said Martin.

“For the whole cast we kind of had an understanding that at first it may seem a little out of our comfort zone to speak out about certain topics that people aren’t used to talking about, but later in the seasons, I think we definitely found a comfort in it,” said Brown.

On the topic of if his time as a student of Howard University played a role in his success, Anthony Anderson, who plays Dre on the show, believes that it did that and much more.

 

“My HBCU experience was instrumental in not just getting me to where I am today but getting me through everyday life… I think there’s nothing like an HBCU experience, being in one place at the same time with like-minded individuals trying to achieve the same thing,” said Anderson.

Like Anderson, the rest of the cast members have all gained great success, a big part of which due to their involvement in the show. The show’s claim to fame is that it has been a catalyst for tough, yet necessary, conversations. With everything that is going on in our country right now, it is safe to say that there is a lot to look forward to in this newest season of Black-ish!

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