Gil Noble, a legendary black journalist, has died at 80.
Noble hosted the New York public affairs show “Like It Is” for 33 years. WABC, the station he worked for, said that he created “the largest body of programs and documentaries on African Americans in the country.”
“Like It Is” was born out of an effort to put more African American programs on television in the wake of the civil rights and black power movements. The show began in 1968, and it was only a stroke that forced Noble off the air in 2011.
Noble was born and bred in Harlem. In a 1998 interview, he said that he grew up “with no thought at all” of becoming a broadcaster. “[It] certainly had no place for people of color,” he said.
Noble worked as a model, a bank clerk and a jazz pianist before his move into broadcasting. He eventually got a job at a Harlem radio station, and transitioned to television in 1967, where he stayed for the rest of his career.
“The civil rights movement was really exploding,” he continued in that interview. “I got myself an understanding of myself, my history, this country and another perspective of its story and its history and the world by all of the dynamic people who were in Harlem at the time.” His hero, and greatest influence, was Malcolm X.
Noble interviewed everyone from historians to presidents, revolutionaries to music icons. Just some of the many, many legends he spoke to include Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali, Kwame Ture, Jesse Jackson, Julius Nyerere and Sarah Vaughan. He also produced many documentaries about black history.
“Gil Noble’s life and work had a profound effect on our society and culture,” WABC president Dave Davis said in a statement.