American Masters TV Show Watchlist

American Masters

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An acclaimed series of biographies of artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians and Hollywood stars. Profiles of Alexander Calder, Paul Simon, Charlie Chaplin and music producer John Hammond won Peabody Awards, while films about Edward R. Murrow, Lucille Bal (more…)

Rating: TV-PG

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Season 16, Episode 7 Ralph Ellison: An American Journey

First Aired: February 19, 2002

Recalling writer Ralph Ellison (1914-94), “a jazz musician at the typewriter,” says professor Robert O'Meally. Andre Braugher narrates the program, which includes dramatizations from Ellison's 1952 novel “Invisible Man,” and explores his idea that white and black cultures were inextricably bound. He was called an “Uncle Tom” because of it. “Ralph was a snob,” says dramatist Amiri Baraka. Counters professor Cornel West: “He had a fundamental respect for the complex mind of ordinary black people.”