From 1968 to 1972, WTTW aired the weekly program “Our People.” The show, hosted by Jim Tilmon, was one of the first of its kind to provide a forum for Black issues and featured guests like Harold Washington before he became mayor, actress Diahann Carroll, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. and author and activist James Baldwin.
During Black History Month, we re-aired recently unearthed clips of the program, and it brought back memories for Kim Williams. His father, artist Jose Williams, appeared on the show in November 1970. Though the episode itself has been lost, a few images were recovered.
Upon seeing the photos of his father on the “Black Voices” set, Kim Williams exclaimed, “That’s a young dude! Real young! I was 14, he was about 39.”
We spoke with them from their home in Virginia. Kim Williams, who recently moved from Chicago, saw the clips of “Our People” replaying on “Black Voices.” He recalls the importance of the program at the time, presenting opportunities for the Black community to tell its own story.
“That was a big deal, the must-see TV of our time in Chicago, and people who came to Chicago took that news somewhere else,” he said.
Today, the senior Williams is 90 years old, and though he doesn’t remember much about being on “Our People,” he does remember what’s important: creating art.
“As long as one lives, you’re creating something, what form — painting, photography, drawing — ideas are always there. Creativity never leaves one’s mind, that’s what one’s gift is,” he said. “Find out what your gift is, you do that until you move into the next life, leave this life. But you’re always working.”