Sammy Davis Jr.’s 1967 Guest Column: Facing Racism and Overcoming ‘Second-Class Citizenship

by Tim Gray | Variety Magazine

The public often assumes that if celebrities are rich and famous, their lives must be trouble-free. Actually, lots of showbiz horror stories negate that, but they’re usually about addiction and/or self-destruction. In 1967, Sammy Davis Jr. offered an insightful guest column about the everyday problems that he and others faced as Black people in America.

In the 1960s, America seemed on the brink of a second civil war, as people were divided about the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, police brutality, drug use, the White House versus the media, and more. It was a world similar to 2020.

Davis said in 1967, “The nightmare we all face has had a massive impact on all our lives and none of us, Black or white, will walk away from this time without being scarred by its enormous effects upon the moral and physical well-being of democracy.”

Davis was in London working on the film “Salt and Pepper,” and said Europeans only wanted to talk about what was happening in the U.S. He wrote that as a Black man, “I know the feeling of frustration which surges inside when only color stands between you and the proper respect for human dignity, equal opportunity and, above all, the chance to be treated like a man.”

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