Long before hip-hop bravado became a given in American pop culture, George Jefferson, played by the late Sherman Hemsley, was already making way for it. As television’s first “self-made” black man, George Jefferson was living the black American dream. While James and Florida Evans were “scratchin’ and surviving” on Good Times, George and his wife Weezy were thriving, “movin’ on up, to the east side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky.”
George was the ambitious, poor kid from Harlem who didn’t roll with the punches. Instead, he gave them out. Cashing in on the bloody receipts collected during the hard fought civil rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s, George realized that he could parlay his street smarts into a legitimate hustle way before Jay-Z became the hustler’s ambassador and Stringer Bell from The Wire got hip to the game, albeit too late.
Like Florence, George and Weezy’s black maid, many Americans were clueless to their reality. “How come we overcame, and nobody told me?” she quipped in one of the show’s early episodes. America may have met George Jefferson as Archie Bunker’s black, bigoted counterpart who could dole out “honky” as easily as others chanted the n-word, but he proved more than that.
Read more at The Grio’s website.
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