Lost, Stolen and Strayed

Year Film Made: 1968

Film length: 54 minutes

Executive Producers: The movie was first shown on CBS and is now even available by XENON

Writer: Andrew Rooney

Director: Vern Diamond

Studio: Faith

Music: 1970’s contemporary, Soul

The Film is in color

Film Type: Documentary, Social History

Who narrated this film: Bill Cosby when he was young

“Lost, Stolen or Strayed” reviews the numerous contributions of African-Americans to the development of the United States. From the perspective of the turbulent late 1960s, the fact that their positive roles had not generally been taught as part of American history, coupled with the pervasiveness of derogatory stereotypes, was evidence of how black people had long been victims of negative attitudes and ignorance

This is a very poignant documentary that was narrated by Bill Cosby back in 1968. The film is about Black identity and pride and how they have been compromised due to omissions in history books as well as Hollywood’s depiction of Black America. Both of these problems essentially boil down to a disdain for Black culture and identity. This film came out in the 1960s when Black Americans were no longer accepting that they were second best–a very positive step in our society.

“In this film, host Bill Cosby shares several accomplishments that have not always been fully or properly covered in the history books. The achievements of important historical figures are discussed, including the medical advances made by black doctors, the dedication of the black soldiers who fought in the Civil War, and the contributions made by Admiral Perry’s navigator. Though the film was made in the late ’60s and doesn’t include the many new discoveries and accomplishments made since then, it does present important information that encourages young people to meet their academic goals and follow their dreams. Children in grades six and up are the primary audience for this film.”

What do you recall or what was important for you:

The experiment I recall from this documentary was that a black child was asked to draw little “Sally,” and the child proceeded to draw a person with full arms, legs, hair, eyes, etc. Then the black child was asked to draw herself, whereby she sketched what was pretty much a STICK person, without eyes, nose, etc. There was no fallacy in the experiment. The point made was that the black child saw herself as less than the white child.

About Bill Cosby:

If your only impression of Bill Cosby is the funny man from FAT ALBERT, or the kindly Cliff Huxtable from THE COSBY SHOW, this documentary is a revelation. Basically, the filmmakers take you through a history of African-Americans in cinema. Now, this being the late 60’s, it is a very ANGRY retrospective, hosted by a very, shockingly, ANGRY Cos. This doc is loaded with really amazing historical footage and some rather shocking footage from the time. The “Black Power” elementary school is a true masterwork. It is a shame that this doc isn’t available on home video, because it is a slice of a life and an insight into a time that has been glossed over by the slow drift of history. Call your local PBS station, petition home video distributors, demand that you see this piece! Bill seems so angry in it, that he may scare younger viewers, but it sure seems more ‘real,’ than the guy who sells you the Jello.

I was very impressed by this film and liked the overall message. Bill Cosby is a reasonable man but it’s also nice to see that at times, he’s angry as he talks about the de-humanization of Black men and women in films–with “Aunt Jemima” images, the myth of the “happy slave” as well as the “slow-witted Negro”. All this is very poignant and can’t help but make his point. If anything, this documentary actually was somewhat gentle in its condemnation of these films–and made no mention of the worst offenders, cartoons .


~ by Colorful Soul on 03/24/2012.

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