PBS’ “Blank on Blank” series, which brings interviews with notable public figures to life in via animated shorts, published a new video yesterday (September 27) featuring iconic musician Stevie Wonder describing a racist incident from his childhood.
“I think I discovered, you know, the whole thing of color when I went down South once, when my grandmother passed away,” the musician says in the video. “There were some kids, White kids that lived nearby or whatever, [that said], ’Hey, nigger!”
The Michigan-born musician then describes throwing rocks at the kids, unafraid of the possible consequenses. “I’ve never accepted stupidity and ignorance as making me then determine how good I was or how less I was,” he says.
The video’s audio comes from a 2005 interview conducted by British journalist Barney Hoskyns. Wonder also discusses fellow Motown artists The Temptations, who game him the nickname “nappy-headed boy,” which he references in his song “I Wish.”
He also mentions backlash he received from people in his Black Pentacostal church for singing secular music. “We live in a society where Black music, one time, was called ‘race music,’” he says. “Where jazz was considered something nasty, you know? I don’t know, I felt that if God didn’t want me to sing it, he wouldn’t have given me the talent to do it!”
Watch the short above.