Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I first heard Moms Mabley on a record in 1960 and dug her from that moment on. Recently she seemed to have been forgotten, like a lot of pioneers often are, especially if they were women, let alone "black" (a term I still feel belongs in quotes, just like "white").

But that's been corrected now with a great HBO documentary directed by Whoopi Goldberg who conducts interviews with a great group of folks with terrific insights into Moms's genius and impact.

As much a Civil Rights pioneer as anyone, she was also a women's rights pioneer as well, and it's nice to see that acknowledged in this film that mixes interviews with original footage of Moms doing her act.

And it was an act, but one that depended on a lifetime of overcoming obstacles to bring some hard truths to a nation divided at the time (sound familiar?) but united (more than at any time probably) by TV and its few channels and vast audience. And she did it by making people laugh, no matter what side of the divide they were on.

Her records and live act in "black" nightclubs were known for their rawness, not just of language but of facing reality with a few jabs and an uppercut. She influenced so many it would be a list too long to include on this post, if I were even able to make a list (my challenge these days).

If you don't know her, check out this film, and if you do, well, I know you're gonna check it out. And kudos to Whoopi for making it happen.

1 comment:

-K- said...

At the time when she was on national tv (and on a regualr basis), I had no idea what an accomplishment it was for her to have become a household name.

As a matter of fact,I'm just realizing it now.