This is not really a story about history ON television, but it does highlight a historic moment on American television from 1963– the year of the March on Washington, a year in which many white Americans were finally waking up to the existence of racial issues and racial discrimination in their communities. And it comes in a most unlikely place: an episode of the popular “Dick Van Dyke Show,” set in the white suburban town of New Rochelle, New York.
It’s worth noting how radical this must have felt 50 years ago: As the article says:
It’s worth revisiting as a then-and-now study in how television effects transformation.
Today TV seems to push various envelopes with a vengeance, often clumsily so, trying for shock value in a world that is increasingly hard to shock. You have to admire the bravery and the unwillingness to tolerate any barrier, whether it be the one against gay characters or characters with disabilities or unsettling subjects like rape and child abuse. But you also sometimes are left mourning the lack of subtlety and art.