Washington, D.C. — Washington in the ’70s, a new documentary from WETA TV 26, explores the decade that began under a cloud of war, riots and division and ended with a feeling of promise, calm and relative harmony. The one-hour WETA production premieres February 22 at 9 p.m. on WETA TV 26.
The special picks up where last fall’s WETA TV 26 documentary Washington in the ’60s left off, charting the District’s rise from the ashes of the 1968 riots to its emergence as a world-class city and featuring first-hand accounts from those who shaped the decade’s events.
“WETA TV 26 is proud to bring area viewers the next chapter in the story of this great city and its people,” said Kevin Harris, vice president and television station manager of WETA. “In the documentary, we see how Washington, D.C., emerged from its segregated past, achieving greater community harmony during the decade of the 1970s.”
Washington in the ’70s features the reminiscences of notable Washingtonians such as politicians Marion Barry, Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Charlene Drew Jarvis and Carol Schwartz; journalists Ben Bradlee, Pat Buchanan, Connie Chung and Maury Povich; columnist Colbert I. King; musical artist Chuck Brown; and deejays Cerph Colwell and Donnie Simpson — each of whom offers insights and perspective on historical events in Washington. Bernard Shaw, a long-time anchor of CNN who moved to the District in 1968, narrates the program.
Exploring race relations throughout the decade, the documentary chronicles political activism in the Statehood and Home Rule movements, recounts the development of Metro and how the transit system and the coalescing anti-freeway movement helped bring the city’s communities together, and spotlights the middle-class urban flight that profoundly altered the city and its surroundings. Among events explored are Home Rule victories, Vietnam protests, the bombing of the U.S. Capitol, the effects of the Watergate scandal, and the Hanafi Siege during which Marion Barry suffered a gunshot wound and subsequently undertook his first successful run for mayor.
On the cultural scene, Washington in the '70s examines local popular music and the influence of FM radio, and follows the openings of world-class museums, galleries and performing-arts spaces, including Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. The WETA TV 26 documentary relives the Bullets’ NBA championship season, the Redskins’ rise in popularity under head coach George Allen, and the establishment of the Washington Capitals NHL franchise. Among other D.C. cultural phenomena chronicled are the filming of the blockbuster motion picture, The Exorcist, in Georgetown; the arrival of giant pandas at the National Zoo; and the Bicentennial celebration that helped instill a new sense of pride in the capital city.
WETA Television and Classical WETA 90.9 FM are public broadcasting stations serving the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia with high-quality programming. Classical WETA 90.9 FM brings classical music, concerts and specials to Greater Washington. As the leading PBS station in the nation’s capital, WETA Television broadcasts on four channels: WETA TV 26, WETA HD, WETA Kids and WETA Create. WETA Television celebrates the people and history of this region through programs such as WETA All Access, WETA Around Town and WETA Extras. For national PBS audiences, WETA produces The PBS NewsHour; Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal; history films by Ken Burns such as The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; and performance specials from the U.S. Capitol, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the White House, including In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement, airing in February. Embracing the educational mission of public broadcasting, WETA creates leading public service websites such as ReadingRockets.org, LDOnline.org and Brainline.org and develops community outreach programs to engage people of all ages in the joy of lifelong learning. WETA’s headquarters are located in Arlington, Virginia. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at weta.org.