MAY 8, 1969

Members of the Black Psychiatrists of America interrupted the breakfast of the trustees of the American Psychiatric Association. The Black psychiatrists shared a list of demands that included a rise in Black leadership, a call to desegregate mental health facilities and a rule to bar psychiatrists guilty of racial discrimination. 

Their founding president, Charles Pierce, was especially concerned about television: “American homes have more television sets than bathtubs, refrigerators or telephones; 95 percent of American homes have television sets.” 

Convinced that the way to change young hearts would be through television, he became a senior adviser for a new educational show for preschoolers known as “Sesame Street,” which featured a racially diverse cast. “Sesame Street” would go on to become one of the most successful shows of all time, creating iconic characters that resonate to this day.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.