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Black History Month Programming on WETA Television

WETA Celebrates Black History Month

This February, WETA Television recognizes Black History Month with special programming that highlights the African-American experience.


All programs air on both WETA TV 26 and WETA HD. 

Independent Lens: The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights

INLE Whitney Young

Sunday, February 2 at 12:30 am

A film profiles Whitney M. Young, Jr., one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders of the civil rights era. Follow his journey from segregated Kentucky to head of the National Urban League.

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Underground Railroad: The William Still Story

William Still

Sunday, February 2 at 1:30 am

William Still of Philadelphia was a free black man who risked his life to help fugitive slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. This documentary reveals his story.

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The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

The African Americans

Sunday, February 2 at 11:30 am

A six-hour series presented and written by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. chronicles the full sweep of African-American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent up to the present.

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An Evening with Valerie Simpson in Honor of Nick Ashford — with Gwen Ifill

An Evening with Valerie Simpson

Wednesday, February 5 at 4:00 pm

WETA’s Gwen Ifill interviews Valerie Simpson, who wrote songs for over 40 years with her husband, the late Nick Ashford. Ashford & Simpson’s hits include: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “I’m Every Woman.”

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Black in Latin America

Black in Latin America

Wednesdays in February at 5:00 pm

In this series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the African influence on society in six Latin American countries.

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Independent Lens: Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock

INLE Daisy Bates

Thursday, February 6 at 3:00 pm

This documentary tells the story of a complex, but little-recognized figure in the civil rights movement: Daisy Bates, once famous for publicly supporting the Little Rock Nine as head of the Arkansas NAACP.

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P.O.V.: American Promise

POV American Promise

Saturday, February 8 at 11:00 pm

 A Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award winner, middle-class African-American parents chronicle the lives of their son and his best friend. Beginning with kindergarten at the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan and ending with high school graduation, the boys’ divergent paths present complicated truths about race and class in America.

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P.O.V.: Homegoings

POV Homegoings

Sunday, February 9 at 1:00 am

 Through the eyes of Harlem funeral director Isaiah Owens, this documentary takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, drawing on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration.

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Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson

Sunday, February 9 at 11:00 am

Parts 1 & 2 of 2. This Ken Burns film, a co-production of WETA and Florentine Films, chronicles the life and career of the first African-American heavyweight champion. Johnson’s dominance over his white opponents spurred race riots and debates in his time. {DVI} Repeats Thurs 2/13, 1:00 pm

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Freedom Riders: American Experience

Freedom Riders

Monday, February 10 at 2:30 pm

From May until November 1961, over 400 Americans, black and white, travelled together on buses and trains through the Deep South. This documentary tells the harrowing story of those Riders as they risked their lives, facing savage mob violence and imprisonment, to challenge segregation through a simple act of unity. {DVI}

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American Masters: Cab Calloway: Sketches

Cab Calloway

Tuesday, February 11 at 1:00 pm

American Masters explores the life of the pioneering jazz legend who charmed audiences with his bravado and showmanship. Repeats Tues 2/26, 5:00 pm

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An Evening with Berry Gordy — with Gwen Ifill

An Evening with Berry Gordy

Wednesday, February 12 at 4:00 pm

WETA’s Gwen Ifill interviews Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, which became the most successful African American-owned enterprise in the nation.

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Independent Lens: Spies of Mississippi

Spies of Mississippi

Saturday, February 15 at 11:00 pm

A documentary spotlights a spy agency formed by the state of Mississippi in the 50s to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy. Over a decade, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate the NAACP, CORE and SNCC. The film tracks the commission’s hidden role in important chapters of the civil rights movement.

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For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots

For Love of Liberty

Sunday, February 16 at 12:00 am

Parts 1 & 2 of 2. Introduced by Colin Powell, hosted by Halle Berry and narrated by Avery Brooks, a two-part film uses letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical texts and military records to document the sacrifices and contributions of African-American servicemen and women. Repeats Sun 2/16, 2:00 am

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American Masters: Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth

Alice Walker

Sunday, February 16 at 1:00 pm

 The documentary series profiles writer/activist Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. Born into a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia, Walker came of age during the violent racism and seismic social changes of midcentury America. Her early experiences with poverty and the civil rights movement informed her writing and she continues to shine a light on global human rights issues today.

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The March

The March

Sunday, February 16 at 2:30 pm

A documentary spotlights the August 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his stirring “I Have a Dream” speech. The film reveals the dramatic story behind this watershed event through the memories of key players, historians, journalists and authors. Denzel Washington narrates.

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Slavery by Another Name

Slavery by Another Name

Tuesday, February 18 at 4:00 pm

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas A. Blackmon, this Sundance Film Festival selection for 2012 explores the little-known story of post-Emancipation labor practices and laws that effectively created a new form of slavery in the South, persisting into the 20th century. Laurence Fishburne narrates.

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An Evening with Ursula Burns — with Gwen Ifill

Ursula Burns

Wednesday, February 19 at 4:00 pm

Gwen Ifill interviews Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, in front of a live audience at the New York Times Center. The program explores the life and career of Burns, the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company.

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Independent Lens: Soul Food Junkies

Soul Food Junkies

Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 pm

Filmmaker Byron Hurt spotlights soul food, its relevance to black cultural identity and its lasting health effects on African Americans. The film also explores the socioeconomics of the American diet.

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The Black Kungfu Experience

The Black Kungfu Experience

Sunday, February 23 at 11:00 pm

A documentary introduces kungfu’s African-American pioneers — including Ron Van Clief, who earned the nickname “Black Dragon” from Bruce Lee. These men challenged convention by mastering the ancient martial art, which resonated in black communities across the United States.

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