PBS Celebrates African-American History and Culture

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Cherise Harrison-Nelson and family with Kenyatta-Berry. Photo: PBS
Cherise Harrison-Nelson and family with Kenyatta-Berry. Photo: PBS

In honor of Black History Month, PBS has released its programming lineup and online content offerings that will enrich viewers’ understanding of African-American history and culture. As part of its commitment to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans year-round, PBS will offer special new episodes from popular titles, along with encore programming—all of which will stream online after broadcast on the PBS Black Culture Connection at pbs.org/bcc.

Features New Episodes from INDEPENDENT LENS and AMERICAN MASTERS, Along With Surprising Family Secrets Uncovered on GENEALOGY ROADSHOW

The full Black History Month programming lineup is listed below (check local listings) and will also be available for online streaming on the BCC after premiere:

GENEALOGY ROADSHOW, Season 2
“New Orleans – Board of Trade”
Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the New Orleans Board of Trade. A local man seeks to recover essential history washed away in Hurricane Katrina; a woman discovers she has links to both sides of the Civil War; another unravels the mystery behind her grandfather’s adoption; and one man explores a link to the famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.

“St. Louis – Union Station”
Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
At St. Louis’ historic Union Station, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories from across Missouri. A musician hopes to find connections to a famous St. Louis jazz composer; two sisters explore links to a survivor of the legendary Donner Party; an Italian-American woman finds out if she is related to Italian royalty; and a schoolteacher who has all the answers for her students has very few about her own past.

“Philadelphia – Historical Society of Pennsylvania”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. One woman’s ancestor may have sparked historic labor laws; a pastor may have an outlaw in her family tree; a woman learns about slave genealogy and, with the help of DNA testing, gets the answer she has waited for; and another woman learns her ancestor may have helped others escape the Holocaust.

SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED
“The Taming of the Shrew With Morgan Freeman”
Friday, February 6, 2015, 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET
In 1990, Morgan Freeman famously starred in a Wild West version of The Taming of the Shrew for Shakespeare in the Park in New York.  Here he sets out to understand how and why the play, one of the Bard’s first works, was written. Interviewees include Tracey Ullman, Sinead Cusack and Julia Stiles.

“Othello With David Harewood”
Friday, February 6, 10:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET
In 1997, David Harewood was the first black actor to play Othello on stage at the National Theatre in London. In this episode, he unravels the complex issues of prejudice and jealousy that are threaded throughout the play, and returns to the National to meet Adrian Lester, the most recent actor to take on the role at the theatre. Interviewees include Simon Russell Beale, Ian McKellen, Julia Stiles and Patrick Stewart.

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW “Celebrating Black Americana”
Monday, February 9, 2015, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW honors Black History Month with this new special that features items seen together for the first time.  Highlights include an 1821 U.S. citizenship certificate for George Barker, a free man of color; an African-American beauty book written by Madame C.J. Walker, the first American female millionaire; and a trip with host Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Leila Dunbar to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

INDEPENDENT LENS
“Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People”
Monday, February 16, 2015, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
This is the story of the pioneering African-American photographers — men and women, celebrated and anonymous — who have recorded the lives and aspirations of generations, from slavery to the present. By Thomas Allen Harris.

“American Denial” 
Monday, February 23, 2015, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
“American Denial” uses the story of Gunnar Myrdal’s 1944 investigation of Jim Crow racism as a springboard to explore the power of unconscious biases and how the ideals of liberty, equality and justice still affect notions of race and class today. By Llewellyn Smith.

AMERICAN MASTERS “August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand” 
Friday, February 20, 2015, 9-10:30 p.m. ET
Explore the life and legacy of playwright August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005), the man some call America’s Shakespeare, from his roots as an activist and poet to his indelible mark on Broadway. Film and theater luminaries including Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks and Phylicia Rashad share their stories of the career- and life-changing experience of bringing Wilson’s rich theatrical voice to the stage. Unprecedented access to Wilson’s theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews and new dramatic readings bring to life his seminal 10-play cycle chronicling each decade of the 20th-century African-American experience, including the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Fences and Pulitzer-winning The Piano Lesson. Family, friends, colleagues and scholars trace Wilson’s influences, creative evolution, triumphs, struggles, and quest for cultural determinism before his untimely death from liver cancer. Directed by Emmy-winner Sam Pollard (If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise; When the Levees Broke; Slavery by Another Name).

In addition to on-air programs, the PBS Black Culture Connection (BCC), an extension of PBS.org featuring black films, stories and discussion across PBS, will debut several new “Top 10” Lists with recommendations for must-see documentaries and must-read authors, as well as little-known black history facts.

Please click here for more information.

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