Gil Noble, one of the most influential African-American journalists of all time, has died today at the age of 80. For over 40 years, Mr. Noble was host of the weekly public affairs program Like It Is, which still stands as the longest-running show of its kind in television history. Noble interviewed some of the most important figures in Black history including Bob Marley, Bill Cosby, Kwame Ture, and Muhammad Ali, among numerous others.
Noble began hosting the show alongside African-American actor Robert Hooks in the late 60s, eventually becoming the show's main host and producer in 1975. Noble's interviewing style was direct much like the title of his show, never mincing his words and engaging his subjects head on. The show was created by WABC-TV to help provide Black-oriented programming at a time where it was a severe lack of shows geared towards African-Americans.
Although Noble's style was often seen as low-key, he was a staunch supporter of Civil Rights and proudly spoke about the Black experience in America. Noble counted Malcolm X as his greatest influence, mentioning the Muslim leader in his 1981 memoir Black is the Color of my TV Tube. “[Malcolm X] taught me the cold, brutal facts of the Black existence in this country. He told me who I am, and I have kept that knowledge with me ever since, even as I walk down the corridors of ABC wearing a smile.”
Noble suffered a stroke last July, which prompted his family to publicly announce that the host would not return to his duties at Like It Is last fall. In his passing, Mr. Noble leaves behind a rich legacy of reporting and journalism from the Black perspective. As colleagues and fans will undoubtedly sing his praises in the coming days, many aspiring journalists would do well in studying the career of Gil Noble.
Rest In Peace, Gil Noble. Thank you for telling it “Like It Is.”
Photo: Tim Soter/WIRE