1964 Twilight Zone Episode With Prophetic Message
On March 27, 1964 CBS aired episode 26 of Season 5 of the Twilight Zone titled "I am the night - Color me black." The episode centers around a man who is to be executed for killing another man who was a bigot.
Terry Becker played "Jagger" the character who would ultimately be hung. The town is largely racist and looks forward to his hanging. Jagger killed a racist man in self defense, a man who intended to do harm to a black man.
Jagger shows no remorse as he inches closer to death. The towns deputies eagerly anticipate his hanging while the Sheriff is starting to second guess his role in Jagger's conviction.
From the beginning of the show, it's made clear to the audience that sunrise never arrives on the morning of Jagger's execution and as the day grows longer, the night remains.
At the end of the episode there is a speech made by actor Ivan Dixon, "Reverend Anderson," addressing the town's people who came out to witness the hanging and he says the following:
In all this darkness, is there anybody who can make out the truth? He hated, he killed, now he died. You hated, you killed and now there's not one of you, not one of you who isn't doomed.
Do you know why it's dark? Do you know why there is night all around us? Do you know what the blackness is? It's the hate he felt, the hate you felt, the hate all of us feel and there's too much of it, there's just too much.
And so, we had to vomit it out and now it's coming up all around us and choking us. So much hate, so much miserable hate.
The Reverend ends his speech and the towns people begin to comment on how much darker the night becomes. The scene is shifted back to the police station where the Sheriff and a reporter listen to the news on the radio that the darkness is no longer exclusive to their small town. Cities and towns across the globe are reporting that there is night where there should be sunlight.
As with all Twilight Zone episodes, series creator Rod Serling has the last word, saying:
A sickness known as hate, not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ but a sickness nonetheless. Highly contagious, deadly in it's effects, don't look for it in the Twilight Zone, look for it in the mirror, look for it before the light goes out altogether.
Maybe this is what we need, an unavoidable, physical signal to capture our attention and alert us to the wreckage we've all created.
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