With that context in place, “Out of The Shadows” documents the successes and struggles of the civil rights movement that began in the sixties. Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. kick starts the series with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This is a cornerstone of Black America’s gradual ascension to the upper echelons of political power, a statute now hobbled by a 2013 Supreme Court decision that diluted its power to ensure citizens of color equal access to the voting booth.
A new black iconography jolted the sensibilities of white America. Mega-celebrities like James Brown, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Prince, et al. presaged the great crossover effect seen in today’s rainbow celebrity culture while at the same time alerting the world to the economic buying power of the black community. Moreover, unlike the majority of black celebrities during the 50’s, these new stars were confrontational and provocative.