Radio Facts: Mixing gritty newsreel footage, present-day interviews and newly discovered archival tapes from the TV show Petey Greeneâ„¢s Washington, ADJUST YOUR COLOR: The Truth of Petey Green (narrated by Don Cheadle) captures the tumultuous era when Americaâ„¢s melting pot was bubbling over and media paradigms were shifting.
His was a familiar trajectory for young African Americans living in poverty and despair. Born in 1931 to parents on their way to prison and raised by his grand mother in the Washington, D.C. ghetto, young Ralph Waldo Å“Petey Greene, Jr. had numerous scrapes with the law, eventually dropping out of high school to join the army. He served in Korea, but was discharged from the military for heroin use. A heavy drinker and minor drug dealer, Petey was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 10 years at Lorton Reformatory in 1965. The story would have ended there, save for Petey Greeneâ„¢s gift for gab.
While in prison, Petey was allowed to speak to his fellow inmates over the public address system. His fast-talking, animated delivery, infused with street jive, was a big hit with prisoners and guards alike”the latter found Petey so entertaining that they refused to let him be paroled, even though he was eligible.
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