Nearly every comedian looks to personal experience to help craft a comedic personality. For “In Living Color” alum Tommy Davidson, his unique experience growing up in a mixed family during the civil rights era shaped not only his jokes, but his views on race as well.
Following his adoption by a white family in 1966, Davidson moved from Colorado to Wyoming to Oregon until he was about 5 years old. After bouncing from state to state, his family made the move to the East Coast at an inopportune moment.
“We moved to Washington, D.C., the week Martin Luther King [Jr.] got shot. So we move into one of the worst black cities,” he told HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill. “There’s a riot, tear gas, tanks and federal troops are there. Me, my sister and my brother were laying on the floor in the car wondering what the hell was going on.”
Navigating life as a person of color in the era of Jim Crow wasn’t easy for Davidson, especially while living with a family that he didn’t resemble.
“Here I was, a great, bright-eyed kid who had never heard the N-word, who had never heard ‘white cracker’ and was being called that by both [races],” he said. “I thought it was so stupid because, when I was a kid, I didn't think that black people were black, I thought that we were brown like a crayon. And my sister was like peach, with the crayon.”
Although Davidson was surrounded by a volatile environment, he didn’t feel any resentment.
“The love that I got didn’t have any color,” he said.
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with comedian Tommy Davidson here.
Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!