Celebrating Black History Month: Gil Noble and NJCU's 'Like It Is' Collection

Celebrating Black History Month: Gil Noble and NJCU's 'Like It Is' Collection

NJCU Celebrates Black History Month with Its Gil Noble Collection of Legendary Programs from WABC-TV’s Pioneering Public Affairs Series, ‘Like It Is

Lee Hagan Center for Africana Studies offers a collection of almost 800 programs.

New Jersey City University (NJCU) honors the memory and groundbreaking work of journalist Gil Noble during Black History Month with the announcement of plans to make accessible a collection of almost 800 interviews from “Like It Is,” WABC-TV’s Emmy Award-winning weekly public affairs series.  

The longest running African-American-produced television program in the United States, WABC-TV's weekly public affairs series "Like It Is," gave viewers a look at local, national and international events, both current and past, from an African-American perspective. The series ran from 1967 until October 2011. Mr. Noble was named managing editor and producer of “Like It Is” in 1975. He produced and hosted the program on Sundays at noon until October 2011, when he was disabled by a stroke. Mr. Noble died on April 5, 2012 from complications caused by the stroke.

Original tapes from the “Like It Is” Collection are archived in the NJCU Lee Hagan Center for Africana Studies, located within the University’s Congressman Frank J. Guarini Library on the main campus in Jersey City. Videotapes are available for viewing on site by contacting the Hagan Center.

Mr. Noble began a close relationship with New Jersey City University in 1994, which included service as a visiting professor, a guest speaker, a moderator of debates and panel discussions, and a mentor to students. Mr. Noble also played a key role in the production of a video series for NJCU's Human Relations Council. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by NJCU in 2003.

According to Dr. Will Guzmán, director of the Hagan Center, hundreds of programs, currently preserved in their original Beta tape format, will be digitized and made available to the public for scholarly and educational purposes. The programs are currently preserved in their original Beta-tape format, with the earlier programs hour-long and some later programs 30-minutes in length.

The programs and many transcripts will be posted on the NJCU website through the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center. Excerpts from programs featuring Danny Glover, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and NJCU alumna Dr. Betty Shabazz remembering her husband Malcolm X are available here for preview.

Mr. Noble was producer and host of the longest running African-American-produced television program in the United States, WABC-TV's weekly public affairs series "Like It Is."       

Born and raised in Harlem, Mr. Noble is recognized as a journalist whose work was instrumental in advancing the causes of people of African-American heritage, Mr. Noble began his career as a newscaster for New York's WLIB-Radio in 1962. He joined WABC-TV in 1967 as an Eyewitness News correspondent and a year later became a co-host of "Like It Is."  In 1975, Mr. Noble was named managing editor and producer of "Like It Is." 

Among the scores of notable figures Mr. Noble interviewed for the program were: heads of state Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and Sekou Ture (Guinea), political leaders Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, entertainers Bill Cosby and Sarah Vaughan, and sports legends Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe. 

Program topics include drug abuse, the importance of voter registration, the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, and the Congressional hearing in Harlem on police brutality.

Mr. Noble’s documentaries included works on W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X, Paul Robeson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Charlie Parker.  He was the first broadcast journalist to break the story of drug trafficking through military installations.

His broadcast experiences are chronicled in his book Black Is the Color of My TV Tube.

Mr. Noble’s work received wide recognition.  "Like It Is" received seven New York-area Emmy Awards and more than 650 community awards.  The National Association of Black Journalists presented Mr. Noble its Lifetime Achievement Award and five institutions of higher learning presented him honorary doctorates.

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