Basic Black has its roots in the spring of 1968, which was filled with tragedy, turbulence and protests. The country was shocked and shaken by the April assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., followed two months later by the killing of Robert F. Kennedy.

As Americans struggled to understand and address the roots of racism, WGBH also began to take stock.

“The realization was born that all previous programming—of which WGBH had done a lot—on Black problems and Black issues amounted to whites doing programs about Blacks,” said David O. Ives, then president and chief executive of WGBH, in a 1978 interview.

“It was time that Blacks had the opportunity to say what they thought and what they had the right to express.”

WGBH delivered on that promise in July 1968 by launching the pioneering Say Brother, a weekly public affairs show now known as Basic Black, that has become the longest running program on public television focusing on the interests of people of color.

Executive Producer Delores Edwards credits the longevity of the program to the emotional power and enduring importance of the issues it covers.

“Now more than ever, it’s a valuable platform to educate people about communities of color and shine a light on all the nuances,” says Edwards, an Emmy-nominated and award-winning producer, writer and director who has worked on the show for nearly four years.

Basic Black recently was honored with the prestigious Governor’s Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Boston/New England Chapter. The award is reserved for “truly outstanding and unique accomplishments or for achievements of some duration and durability,” said the commendation.

Callie Crossley, who has hosted the program since 2008, said she is proud of the recognition for the team.

"An award like this reminds me how important the work is and helps me recommit to the mission of exploring issues confronting communities of color in Greater Boston," she said.

Kavontae Smalls, associate producer who handles social media, works with guests and does research for the show, says 2020 is a meaningful time for the series.

“There’s so much that we can share, especially in times like these,” he says, “now that ears are willing to listen.” Airing Friday nights, it is followed by an extended online-only discussion on Facebook and Twitter, often with hundreds engaged.

“When it comes to communities of color in the media, there isn’t a lot of depth in the mainstream,” says Smalls. “With Basic Black, we invite viewers into conversations that happen in the barber shop or the hair salon or on the front porch with family and friends.”

Edwards strives to create programs that will draw in more and younger viewers. She was behind the bold new design of the set and graphics and has widened the scope of the segments. Recent episodes have featured Black Lives Matter protests, inequities in the criminal justice system, the impact of colorism, the phenomenon of the film Black Panther and the legacy of blackface.

Edwards, who was a fan of the show when she was an undergraduate at Northeastern University, says the series can have an impact in these times. She recalled a recent particularly poignant episode featuring mentors of young men of color.

“The men were raw and honest and described what they felt and what they’ve encountered,” she says.

“When those moments happen, it’s so rewarding. It gets people thinking, thinking differently.”

Watch episodes of Basic Black here. See the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Boston/New England Chapter awards ceremony here.