Tim Reid is on a mission.
The actor, director and producer has been a longtime advocate for telling stories about the worldwide contributions of Black people throughout history. He also preaches that Black people should control their narrative.
In a new cable series, “Legacy of a People,” Reid will share those stories of power and accomplishment on DKN, one of three local cable channels owned by the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME).
“One of the things I learned from my folks is about ‘living in the spirit,’” Reid said when describing how his global travels motivate his work. “My mission at this point in my life is to become more involved in chronicling the history and culture of the African diaspora.”
Reid said he constantly bumps into Black history wherever he travels.
“Wherever I am, these stories pop up about a person of African descent who has had a major impact on culture or are connected to an incident that had a startling impact on history,” he said. “Our story is hidden in plain sight, but we don’t have the passion to seek it. There are only a few who seek it.”
It is through Reid’s worldwide travels in the entertainment industry that he has gathered content for “Legacy of a People,” and the new series has become a family affair with Tim’s daughter Tori on board as a co-producer. The two have set out to dispel the notion that history coming out of the African diaspora is unimportant.
The series is created from the premise of Africans being brought to America by force. With emancipation, Reid said Africans were drawn to America by the force of opportunity. Migrating to the U.S. through in Europe, a highly educated group of Africans came to America to start businesses and schools. Beginning in the fall, “Legacy of a People” viewers will see what Reid has learned about the impact of African people around the world by looking at places such as Cuba, Cape Verde and Italy.
“We’ve been taught the falsehoods of history, because the facts have been hidden from us,” he said. “Our curiosity has been anesthetized.”
Reid chose DKN for the series after meeting Angie Gates, director of OCTFME. He felt the production facilities and management were a good fit for the series.
“I wanted to do an Anthony Bourdain-ish type of show about the culture of the African diaspora. That’s been my dream,” Reid said. “I’m doing it here at DKN, because the system exists in the District, then I hope to take it international.”
Tori was drawn to working with her father on “Legacy of a People” on a visit with her parents. Though her dad said she has always been a producer, she shies away from the producer credit for the project, preferring to label herself a “utility player” inside her father’s production company.
“I fill in where he needs me to be,” said the Hampton University graduate, who got her first Hollywood job as a production assistant on her father’s television series “Sister, Sister” before going on to work at cable channel Turner Classic Movies and on other productions.
Reid’s passion for enlightening others about global Black culture is an extension of the other hat he wears as artist-in-residence at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He said he’s determined to spread truth about the African diaspora, whether in a classroom or on the set of a production.
“It’s there and it’s fascinating,” he said. “But when you have been told that your history has no value, you have to seek it out.”