Stevie Wonder Describes Racist Incident, Perseverance in New Animated Short

By Sameer Rao Sep 28, 2016

PBS’ "Blank on Blank" series, which brings interviews with notable public figures to life in via animated shorts, published a new video yesterday (September 27) featuring iconic musician Stevie Wonder describing a racist incident from his childhood.

"I think I discovered, you know, the whole thing of color when I went down South once, when my grandmother passed away," the musician says in the video. "There were some kids, White kids that lived nearby or whatever, [that said], ‘Hey, nigger!" 

The Michigan-born musician then describes throwing rocks at the kids, unafraid of the possible consequenses. "I’ve never accepted stupidity and ignorance as making me then determine how good I was or how less I was," he says. 

The video’s audio comes from a 2005 interview conducted by British journalist Barney Hoskyns. Wonder also discusses fellow Motown artists The Temptations, who game him the nickname "nappy-headed boy," which he references in his song "I Wish."

He also mentions backlash he received from people in his Black Pentacostal church for singing secular music. "We live in a society where Black music, one time, was called ‘race music,’" he says. "Where jazz was considered something nasty, you know? I don’t know, I felt that if God didn’t want me to sing it, he wouldn’t have given me the talent to do it!" 

Watch the short above.