As part of Georgia Highlands College Black History Month activities, guest speaker Mark McCray, senior manager of programming operations for Adult Swim, was invited to several GHC locations to talk about his experience with the television industry, Saturday morning television and about African American Influences in cartoons.
McCray entered the television industry by launching “The Best Saturdays of our Lives” monthly newsletter in 1992. The newsletter was sent to various companies involved with children’s content such as Nickelodeon, Marvel, Cartoon Network and DC Comics.
After his success with the newsletter, he started working with Cartoon Network where he became responsible for television programming and strategy.
In 2015, McCray revisited and updated his previously released monthly newsletters and published the book “The Best Saturdays of Our Lives”. It allowed him to update and correct commentary which he had previously released.
At GHC, McCray explained how ratings impact advertisements and how the budget and the animation quality of cartoons are affected. He also talked about the debut of the first wave of African American characters. Pete Jones of the “Hardy Boys” (1969) was among the first African American characters to appear on Saturday morning television. The “Harlem Globetrotters” (1970) was the first African American series and “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” (1992) was the first and longest series to feature an all-African American animated cast.
McCray also talked about the wave of animated celebrity African American stars such as “I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali” (1977) and “Mister T” (1983).
He also explained how Saturday morning television began to decline in the mid-1990s, but its legacy gave birth to 24-hour networks dedicated to children’s programming.