When we first starting working on The HuffPost Show towards the end of 2014, we turned for inspiration to a 53-year-old TV program called That Was The Week That Was -- a groundbreaking series that blended music, comedy, conversation, and frequently pointed satire.
During our research, we came across video of a stunning segment the show had done in April 1963, in the wake of the murder of a civil rights protestor marching from Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi, who was gunned down on the side of the road. It was a brutally satiric musical number, featuring intentionally offensive language and imagery you'd be hard-pressed to find on TV today -- let alone 50-plus years ago.
We talked about how we might be able to do something similar, using music mixed with ridicule to call out the racial violence that continues to plague our country all these years later. Then it hit us, why don't we use the same song, updating it with the disturbing sights and sounds of today?
We did an edit that we felt captured the moment, ending on the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. We thought we were done. Then young, black men continued to be killed. In quick succession, Tamir Rice was shot down in Cleveland. A grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. Another grand jury decided not to indict the police officers that killed Eric Garner.
So we kept going back to the edit room, forced by tragic events to do version after version after version. Finally, after adding in Charly Keunang, the homeless man gunned down by police in downtown Los Angeles, we aired the video on April 3rd, during our premiere episode. Less than 12 hours later, Walter Scott was gunned down in North Charleston, South Carolina. When the video of the Scott killing surfaced, a line from the 1963 song kept coming into our heads: "If you ain't for segregating white folks from the black, then they won't hesitate to shoot you bravely in the back." Then came the release of the body-cam video of Eric Harris being shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the chilling moment where a dying Harris says, "I'm losing my breath" and a police officer replies, "Fuck your breath."
So it was back to the edit room to update yet again a video that is heartbreakingly more relevant than ever. We can only pray that it will never need another revision. Sadly, we're pretty damn sure it will. #BlackLivesMatter