Clockwise from top left: Nichelle Nichols (credit: courtesy of PBS ), Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (credit: Jemila Twinch ) and Bill Cosby and Sammy Davis, Jr. (credit: courtesy of PBS )
ARLINGTON, VA – This season PBS celebrates True Originals — innovators, artists, scientists, political leaders and ordinary citizens who dared to advance, challenge, improve, invent and explore. This February is no exception.
Throughout the year, PBS invites viewers to explore African Americans’ vast contributions to society. In honor and celebration of Black History Month, February 2011, PBS presents new and encore programs, beginning in January and continuing throughout the spring season.
Thousands of hours of PBS programming are available on the PBS Video Portal. In mid-January, the Video Portal will release a special collection for Black History Month 2011, featuring new and encore programming.
PBS Teachers offers the Unsung Heroes in African American History and Civil Rights Movement in American LiteratureActivity Packs for educators to use in the classroom or to post on their classroom, school or favorite social networking Web sites. The activity packs are designed for multiple grade levels and contain links to African-American history-themed education resources and activities from PBS.
PIONEERS OF TELEVISION
Tuesdays, January 18-February 8, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Where would TV be without “Star Trek,” “Columbo,” “Romper Room” or “Gunsmoke”? The series returns for a look at the inception of four popular genres: science fiction, crime dramas, local kids’ TV and westerns, including the contributions of Bill Cosby, Nichelle Nichols and others. Nichols appeared on TAVIS SMILEY on 1/11/11 to discuss her early career in television, including how Dr. Martin Luther King encouraged her to stay on “Star Trek” in what he described as the “first non-stereotypical role” on television for an African American.
Wednesdays, January 19-February 23, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Leading into NOVA, each episode of the upcoming season of NOVA scienceNOW hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson explores one of six “big” science questions: “Can We Make It to Mars?”; “Can We Live Forever?”; “How Does the Brain Work?”; “How Smart are Animals?”; “Where did I Come From?”; and “What’s the Next Big Thing?”
INDEPENDENT LENS “When I Rise”
Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
The story of Barbara Smith Conrad, a gifted music student who found herself at the epicenter of racial controversy but struggled against the odds to reach the heights of international opera.
DUSABLE TO OBAMA: CHICAGO’S BLACK METROPOLIS
Chicago is truly a tale of two cities. There is the legendary Chicago that emerged from hardship and misfortune on the prairie to attain world-class status. There is also a less known, but remarkable aspect of Chicago’s history — the essential contributions of African Americans to the city’s vitality. This film reveals the lives of the celebrated and the unsung — from the establishment of the first black community in the 1840s by free men of color and enslaved Africans seeking freedom, to the election of the nation’s first black president, Chicago’s own Barack Obama.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Pushing the Elephant”
Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
When civil war came to Rose Mapendo’s Congolese village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. More than a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the U.S.
BLACK IN LATIN AMERICA
Tuesdays, April 19-May 10, 2011, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
Travel with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. across Latin America to explore what happens when African and Hispanic worlds meet. Four-part series.
SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Monday, May 9, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its powerful music — the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, in paddy wagons, and in jail cells as they fought for justice and equality. The music enabled African Americans to sing words they could not say, and it was crucial in helping protesters as they faced down brutal aggression with dignity and non-violence. The infectious energy of the songs swept people up and empowered them to fight for their rights. Directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman (Nanking), and executive produced by Danny Glover, Soundtrack for a Revolution is a vibrant blend of heart-wrenching interviews, dramatic images, and thrilling contemporary performances by top artists, including John Legend, Joss Stone, Wyclef Jean, and The Roots — a film of significance, energy, and power.
FREEDOM RIDERS: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Monday, May 16, 2011, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s powerful and inspirational story of the more than 400 black and white men and women who, using non-violent tactics, risked their lives to challenge segregated travel facilities in the South in 1961.
WASHING AWAY: AFTER THE STORMS
Monday, January 24, 2011, 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET
Follows six survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to reveal successes and setbacks as the Louisiana coastline and culture continue to give way to the gulf and face disastrous new threats. Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson, a native of New Orleans, narrates.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene”
Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
America's original shock-jock, Petey Greene, became a leading activist during some of the most tumultuous years in recent history.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS “Allen Toussaint”
Saturday, February 26, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Legendary New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint hits the ACL stage with songs from his latest LP, The Bright Mississippi, and classic hits like "Southern Nights."
AN EVENING WITH SMOKEY ROBINSON
Gwen Ifill interviews Motown legend Smokey Robinson, giving viewers an insider’s look at the life and career of the Motown legend. The program features former Motown executive and film producer Suzanne de Passe as mistress of ceremonies, with musical tributes from Grammy-nominated artists such as Teena Marie, Howard Hewett and Musiq Soulchild.
FAUBOURG TREMÉ: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BLACK NEW ORLEANS
Arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America and the birthplace of jazz, Faubourg Tremé was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South during slavery and a hotbed of political ferment. Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans newspaperman, tours this storied neighborhood.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness”
Examines the forgotten legacy of Melville Herskovits, a controversial Jewish anthropologist, whose writings in the ‘40s and ‘50s challenged widely held assumptions about race and culture. Maggie Gyllenhaal hosts.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Banished”
This is the story of three counties that forcefully banished African-American families from their towns 100 years ago — and the descendants who return to learn a shocking history. Co-production of ITVS in association with NBPC. By Marco Williams.
POV “Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North”
Descendants of the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history uncover the vast extent of northern complicity in slavery.
SIMON SCHAMA’S ROUGH CROSSINGS
At the end of the American Revolution, slaves were offered freedom in return for service to the British. This is the story of their resettlement, first in Nova Scotia, then Sierra Leone, where dreams of a haven came to a tragic end.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS “Bettye LaVette/Pinetop Perkins”
Saturday, March 12, 2011, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
R&B veteran Bettye LaVette sings songs from her critically lauded album The Scene of the Crime, followed by legendary pianist Pinetop Perkins and his catalog of blues classics.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Iron Ladies of Liberia”
This intimate documentary goes behind-the-scenes with Africa’s first freely elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia.
THE CIVIL WAR
Sunday-Thursday, April 3-7, 2011, 8:00-10:30 p.m. ET
On the 150th anniversary of the beginning of America’s Civil War, PBS will re-broadcast Ken Burns’s entire landmark 1990 series. Burns’s epic documentary brings to life America’s most destructive — and defining — conflict. THE CIVIL WAR is the saga of celebrated generals and ordinary soldiers, a heroic and transcendent president and a country that had to divide itself in two in order to become one. Voices for the series include Sam Waterston, Jason Robards, Julie Harris, Jeremy Irons, Morgan Freeman, Paul Roebling, Garrison Keillor, Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur Miller and Studs Terkel. Historian David McCullough narrates.
Monday-Friday, 11:00-11:30 p.m. ET
Tavis Smiley hosts this program, featuring interviews with newsmakers, politicians, celebrities and everyday people. See 1/11/11 interview with pioneering African American actress Nichelle Nichols (PIONEERS OF TELEVISION).
Other series that regularly cover topics and profile guests and performers of interest to African Americans include FRONTLINE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, PBS NEWSHOUR, NEED TO KNOW, POV and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL, among many others.