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Made possible by the John H. Mitchell Television Programming Endowment

VIRTUAL EVENT: KCET-TV Pioneers: Los Angeles Documentary in the 1970s

KCET logo
December 8, 2022 - 4:00 pm
In-person: 
video Q&A with KCET filmmakers Jesús Salvador Treviño, Thandeka, Lynne Littman, moderated by author Joshua Glick.


Archive events are in Pacific Time (U.S.). This is a one-time live screening.

Founded in 1964, Los Angeles public television station KCET evolved from its humble beginnings as a local affiliate of National Educational Television (NET) into a broadcast leader adept at attracting diverse filmmakers and producing bold, original programming. By the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Rebellion and the subsequent recommendations of grassroots media activists and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Kerner Commission Report, KCET developed a groundbreaking progressive Human Affairs division to create inclusive, socially relevant programming.

KCET’s Human Affairs unit became a seedbed of talented, politically engaged filmmakers who challenged the rigid boundaries of mainstream TV by artfully covering issues of interest to marginalized communities that commercial entities often misrepresented or ignored. The filmmakers’ distinctive series and documentaries strengthened the social movements beginning to flourish within Los Angeles and reframed dominant understandings of the city’s history and identity. Unfortunately, as typical for all local television programming from the 1960s and ’70s, many of the works created at KCET during this period were not preserved at the time of production. However, the examples provided by surviving programs held at UCLA illuminate a vital legacy of innovative and impactful local television ushered in by a multicultural cohort of gifted auteurs.

Join us for a special screening and panel discussion with three award-winning, pioneering KCET filmmakers: Jesús Salvador Treviño (América Tropical), Thandeka (née Sue Booker, Doin’ It at the Storefront), and Lynne Littman (Number Our Days). Post-screening panel moderated by Joshua Glick, author of Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977.

América Tropical

U.S., 6/22/1971

Filmmaker-producer Jesús Salvador Treviño examines the whitewashing of illustrious Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros’ 1932 mural in downtown Los Angeles, which vividly depicts U.S. imperialism and the brutal exploitation of Indigenous populations across the Americas.

Color, 30 min. Production: KCET. Producer: Jesús Salvador Treviño. Director: Barry Nye. Writer: Jesús Salvador Treviño. Narrator: Victor Millan.

Doin' It at the Storefront

U.S., 7/1/1973

In this rare surviving episode of Doin' It at the Storefront, producer-host Sue Booker (Thandeka) tours the show’s headquarters in South Los Angeles and interviews Tony Brown, dean of Education at Howard University and executive producer of the pioneering PBS series Black Journal.

Color, 30 min. Production: KCET. Producer: Sue Booker (Thandeka). Director: Michael J. Kane. Host: Sue Booker (Thandeka). Reporter: Ron Morrison. With: Horace Jenkins, James Hobbs.

Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive from original 2 in. videotape. Video transfer at DC Video. Engineering services by David Crosthwait.

28 Tonight: Number Our Days

U.S., 10/4/1976

Director-producer Lynne Littman and anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff document the vibrant culture and socioeconomic challenges of an elderly Jewish community in Venice, California.

Color, 30 min. Production: KCET. Producer: Lynne Littman, Barbara Myerhoff. Director: Lynne Littman. Writer: Barbara Myerhoff, Lynne Littman.