In the 52 seasons 60 Minutes has been on the air, we have told many stories of race and racial injustice in America. As our broadcast continues to move forward covering the important issues stemming from the killing of George Floyd, we also want to take a moment to reflect.
In the coming weeks we will publish stories that aired on our broadcast with a focus on race and policing.
We begin with a collection of six reports from five different decades, including a Mike Wallace interview from our very first broadcast on September 24, 1968.
1968 – 60 Minutes reports on police in America
America was in a state of tumult in 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were both assassinated. Police clashed with protestors in cities including Chicago and Washington, D.C.
The Attorney General at the time was Ramsey Clark, and on the very first episode of 60 Minutes, Mike Wallace interviewed him about the state of policing in America.
1980: The Kid, The Cop and The Knife
1980 – Ex cop: Milwaukee police covered-up the murder of a black man
In 1980, 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer reported from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the 1958 killing of Daniel Bell, a 22-year-old black man, by a white police officer named Tom Grady.
At the time of Bell’s death, a police investigation labeled it a justifiable homicide saying Grady fired the lethal bullet in self-defense.
Decades later, Grady’s patrol partner, Louis Krause told Safer that Grady had planted a knife of Bell’s dead body.
1993: “A Tale of Two Cities”
1993 – The racial disparity in neighboring Illinois cities
In 1993, 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft reported on the racial disparity between the neighboring cities of Belleville and East St. Louis in Illinois.
At the time of the report, the predominately black East St. Louis had the highest per capita murder rate in the country.
Residents of the mostly white neighboring Belleville self-funded an iron gate to block a road connecting the two locales.
2004: The Murder Of Emmett Till
2004: The Murder of Emmett Till
In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was tortured and murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman.
At Till’s funeral, his mother placed her son in an open casket and allowed photographers to take pictures of his maimed corpse.
The photograph was published in Jet magazine and, as 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley reported in 2004, ignited protests and civil disobediences throughout the south. “His death was a spark that ignited the civil rights movement in America…[a] lasting symbol of Southern racism in the 20th century,” Bradley said.
2005: The Bridge to Gretna
2005 – A city blocks pedestrians fleeing Hurricane Katrina
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, thousands of people were trapped with no food, no water, no shelter, and were desperate to escape. A group of evacuees, mostly African American, tried to cross a bridge to neighboring Gretna, Louisiana, but were stopped and turned back by a largely while police force.
Four months after Katrina, Ed Bradley travelled to New Orleans to investigate the incident with points of view from both sides of the bridge.
2018: The Legacy of Lynching
2018 – Inside the memorial to victims of lynching
In 2018, 60 Minutes contributor Oprah Winfrey reported from The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
Attorney Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative built the memorial to honor the more than 4,000 black people who were lynched during a 70-year period following the Civil War.
Stevenson told Oprah that lynching was used by white people to maintain control over black people after the Civil War. “It was intended to send a message that if you try to vote, if you try to advocate for your rights, if you insist on fair wages, if you do anything that complicates white supremacy and white dominance and political power, we will kill you.”