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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.


WETA Arts: February 2020

Jubilee Voices

Saturday, February 1 at 7:00 pm

WETA Arts spotlights visual and performing arts in Greater Washington and celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of the nation’s capital. In this episode of WETA Arts: The Jubilee Voices ensemble powerfully combines Civil War reenactment and antebellum African American music, history and culture; local filmmaker Mignotae Kebede; and a conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Repeats Sun 2/2, 11:30 a.m.; Sun 2/16, 2 p.m.; Mon 2/24, 3:30 p.m.

B.B. King: American Masters

B.B. King: American Masters

Sunday, February 2 at midnight

The biography ­series explores the musical artist’s challenging life and career through candid interviews with the “King of the Blues,” filmed shortly before his death, and fellow music stars, including Bono, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and Ringo Starr.  

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise – Out of the Shadows/Move on Up

Black America Since MLK Part 1

Sunday, February 2 at Noon

In part one of this four-hour program, Harvard scholar and WETA partner Henry Louis Gates, Jr., looks at the last five decades of African American history since the major civil rights victories of the 1960s. His premise is this: If Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came back and asked what happened in the last half-century since his passing, what would you tell him? 

American Masters: Charley Pride: I'm Just Me

Charley Pride

Sunday, February 2 at 2:00 pm

Explore the complicated history of the American South and its music through the life of country star Charley Pride. Raised in segregated Mississippi, his journey shows the ways that artistic expression can triumph over prejudice and injustice.

Independent Lens: Cooked: Survival by Zip Code

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code

Monday, February 3 at 10:00 pm

Learn the story of a heat wave that overtook Chicago in July 1995, killing 739 residents, most of them poor, elderly and African American. The heat wave revealed a long-term crisis of poverty, racism, and economic and social isolation in the city.

The WETA Movie: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Saturday, February 8 at 10:00 pm

In Stanley Kramer’s 1967 drama, a couple’s attitudes are challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African-American fiancé. Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn (who won an Oscar for her performance) and Katharine Houghton star.

Fats Domino: American Masters

Fats Domino

Sunday, February 9 at midnight

The biography series explores how the musical artist’s brand of New Orleans rhythm and blues became rock ’n’ roll. As popular as Elvis Presley, Domino suffered degradations in the pre-civil rights South and aided integration through his music.

John Lewis: Get in the Way

John Lewis: Get in the Way

Sunday, February 9 at 2:00 pm

Follow the journey of civil rights hero, congressman and human rights champion John Lewis. At the Selma March, Lewis came face-to-face with club-wielding troopers and exemplified non-violence. Now 77, he is considered the conscience of Congress.

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates: Slave Trade

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, S. Epatha Merkerson

Tuesday, February 11 at 8:00 pm

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. journeys with film director Ava DuVernay, actor S. Epatha Merkerson, and musician Questlove to the unexpected places where their ancestors were scattered by slavery, upending their notions of African American history. Repeats Sun 2/16, 5pm 

The Fight: American Experience

The Fight: American Experience

Tuesday, February 11 at 9:00 pm

Learn the interweaving stories of two extraordinary men, boxers Max Schmeling of Germany and American Joe Louis, culminating in what was arguably the most politicized sporting event in history: the 1938 heavyweight championship of the world.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Saturday, February 15 at 10:00 pm

Join Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for an exploration of the transformative years following the Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change.

Independent Lens: Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities

Independent Lens: HBCUs

Sunday, February 16 at midnight

A film explores the pivotal role that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played in shaping American history, culture and national identity.

American Masters: Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me

American Masters: Sammy Davis Jr.

Sunday, February 16 at Noon

Explore the entertainer’s vast talent and journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress in 20th-century America. Interviewees include Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg and featured are clips from Davis’ television, film and concert performances.

Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story

The Paul R. Williams Story

Sunday, February 16 at 7:00 pm

African American Paul R. Williams suffered discrimination even as he became one of the most successful architects in America from the 1920s through his retirement 50 years later. His remarkable list of clients included film stars, and his name is associated with lasting architectural icons. 

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise: American Masters

American Masters - Maya Angelou

Sunday, February 23 at Noon

Journey through the prolific life of the 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' author and activist who inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought. Features new interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Common, the Clintons and others.

Masters of Rhythm: Afro-Peruvian Way

Masters of Rhythm

Sunday, February 23 at 2:00 pm

Three of the world’s finest percussionists come together to jam. Filmed in Peru, this documentary spotlights a relatively unknown aspect of the African diaspora.

A Musical Evening with Harry Lennix

A Musical Evening with Harry Lennix

Sunday, February 23 at 7:00 pm

HistoryMakers program celebrates the life and career of the actor, who hails from Chicago’s South Side and who has had roles on the stage in productions such as Guys and Dolls, Raisin in the Sun, and Huckleberry Finn, and on the small and big screen in The Man of Steel, NBC’s The Blacklist and The Five Heartbeats. With story-telling through musical performances and theatrical readings, Lennix showcases his gift.

Smokey Robinson: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song

Smokey Robinson Gershwin Prize

Monday, February 24 at Midnight

In the WETA co-production, Samuel L. Jackson hosts a star-studded musical tribute to singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson as the artist receives the Library’s 2016 Gershwin Prize. Taped at DAR Constitution Hall, the concert features Robinson and an array of renowned musical artists in performance, with a special appearance by Berry Gordy, founder of Motown.

Independent Lens: Black Memorabilia

Independent Lens: Black Memorabilia

Monday, February 24 at 9:00 pm

From the South to Brooklyn to China, meet the people who reproduce, consume and reclaim black memorabilia, racially charged objects often wrapped in the protective embrace of antiquity and historical preservation.

Independent Lens: Always in Season

Independent Lens: Always in Season

Monday, February 24 at 10:00 pm

In 2014, African American teenager Lennon Lacy was found hanging from a swing set. His mother believes he was lynched. Stark inconsistencies and few answers from officials drive her to lead efforts in what has become an ongoing fight for the truth.

American Masters: Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Miles Davis

Tuesday, February 25 at 9:00 pm

Discover the man behind the legend. With full access to the Miles Davis Estate, the film features never-before-seen footage, including studio outtakes from his recording sessions, rare photos and new interviews.

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