Home Leisure & Sports NPT and NPT2 offer special programming for Black History Month from PBS

NPT and NPT2 offer special programming for Black History Month from PBS

by Cass Teague

Carl Rowan (center right) with Vice President Lyndon Johnson, 1963. / Atlantic City, N.J., August 10, 1964. Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses at Democratic Convention. (The Finnish Heritage Agency) / (1976 George Ballis, Take Stock, TopFoto) courtesy pbs.org

Nashville is fortunate to have three 24-hour channels offering programming through PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service). And while one of them, NPT3, is dedicated to children’s programming, the other two, NPT and NPT2, offer a rich mature slate of programming and digital content to mark Black History Month as part of its continued commitment to showcasing important stories, sourced from the people and communities that make up our nation. Lauding the victories and recognizing cultural contributions and sacrifices, these programs will unearth remarkable stories of African Americans across generations, from the famous to the lesser-known.

“PBS is thrilled to anchor this year’s Black History Month celebration with programs featuring powerful trailblazers including Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights worker Wharlest Jackson and Black diplomat, Carl Rowan, who were each major influences throughout history and their contributions still resonate today,” said Sylvia Bugg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming. “We present a variety of stories featuring and made by African Americans all year round and continue to highlight the breadth of these stories on PBS.org and the PBS Video app, in addition to our nationally scheduled broadcast programs.”

On Tuesday, February 8, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT, AMERICAN MASTERS will premiere “Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands,” a new documentary providing an intimate look at the life, career and legacy of the African-American contralto and civil rights pioneer in her own words using rare archival interview recordings. The new program shows how her quiet genius and breathtaking voice set the stage for Black performers in classical music, not only in America but around the world.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE premieres “The American Diplomat,” the story of three Black diplomats, Edward R. Dudley, Terence Todman and Carl Rowan, who broke racial barriers at the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. The new documentary, airing February 15, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. CT, portrays their lasting impact on the Foreign Service.

In collaboration with Retro Report, FRONTLINE presents “American Reckoning”: an extraordinary look at the civil rights era – the violence and resistance – through rare footage filmed more than 50-years ago in Natchez, Mississippi, and the still-unresolved killing of local NAACP leader Wharlest Jackson. Premieres February 15, 2022, 9:00 – 10:30 p.m. CT.

Produced in part by Fannie Lou Hamer’s great-niece, Monica Land, FANNIE LOU HAMER’S AMERICA: AN AMERICA REFRAMED SPECIAL from WORLD Channel, American Documentary and Black Public Media premieres Tuesday, February 22, 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. CT. Told through Hamer’s public speeches, interviews, powerful songs and never-before-seen family photos and archival footage, the program is a unique portrait of the life and legacy of the Mississippi-born sharecropper whose harrowing encounters with injustice propelled her into leadership in the fight for voting rights.

In addition to these new broadcast programs, viewers can also stream a collection of programs on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can also view the majority of programs via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).

The PBS Black Culture Connection has curated contextual articles and a playlist on PBS.org to include programs such as AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The Murder of Emmett Till” and THE BLACK CHURCH: THIS IS OUR STORY, THIS IS OUR SONG, the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, available on-demand through the end of February. The PBS Black Culture Connection will also spotlight storytellers and amplify films on social media.

PBS Digital Studios has updated its curated YouTube playlist that includes a collection of videos covering topics of Black history, culture, arts and politics from a range of PBS channels. This includes videos from PBS Voices, a channel from PBS Digital Studios dedicated to documenting our shared human journey and helping us to better understand each other.


Locally, there are February programs with local ties, starting with a new documentary in NPT’s Citizenship series, which premieres Thursday, February 24, at 8 p.m. “Education: The Key to Freedom” documents the impressive strides by former slaves to gain an education in postbellum Tennessee. Not only were thousands learning to read and write, they soon had access to higher education as several Black colleges opened across the state. Despite court-ordered desegregation efforts, the integration of public schools remains an elusive goal to this day.

Also airing on NPT and NPT2: they’re re-airing “Walk Together Children: The 150 Anniversary of the Fisk Jubilee Singers” on February 4, at 10 p.m.

In their 6:30 p.m. ‘Local Stories on Sunday’ slots, they’re re-airing the following:

Feb. 6 – “First Black Statesmen: Tennessee’s Self-Made Men” (an NPT Citizenship documentary)

Feb. 13 –“The Fight to Vote: Black Voter Suppression in Tennessee” (an NPT Citizenship documentary, nominated for a MidSouth Regional Emmy)

Feb. 20 – “The Past Is Prologue: Cameron Class of 1969”

Feb. 24 – “Education: The Key to Freedom (an NPT Citizenship documentary

“Walk Together Children”, “The Fight to Vote”, and “First Black Statesmen” are available to watch anytime by going to the wnpt.org website. The new “Education: The Key to Freedom” will be available online after the broadcast premiere.


Other notable programming running on NPT and NPT2 during Black History Month include: Independent Lens: “Owned: A Tale of Two Americas”; “In Their Own Words: Chuck Berry”; The Citizenship Project: “The Early Black Press: Tennessee Voices Lifted”; “Facing North: Jefferson Street, Nashville”; “Tina Turner: One Last Time”; “Soul Legends (My Music),” featuring host Pam Grier and classics by The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Bill Withers, The Spinners, Isaac Hayes, Minnie Riperton and more; and “Just A Mortal Man – The Jerry Lawson Story” about the founder and original lead singer of The Persuasions; all of these are in High Definition on NPT.


Additional programing in Standard Definition on NPT2 include:

“Jim Crow of the North”, which explores the origins of housing segregation;

American Experience: “Freedom Riders”;

Point of View: “Homegoings”, about African American funerals;

“America ReFramed. Struggle & Hope”, about all-Black towns in Oklahoma after the Civil War; “Independent Lens: “The First Rainbow Coalition”, about Chicago gang alliances led by the Black Panther Party under Chairman Fred Hampton from 1969-1973;

American Experience: Roberto Clemente;

“Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song”;

Reel South: “Unmarked”, about African-American gravesites and burial grounds for enslaved persons in the South;

“Groveland Four”, about a white farm-wife allegedly assaulted by four black men in 1949 in Lake County, Florida;

“America ReFramed: “Where The Pavement Ends”, about all-Black Kinloch and the all-white Ferguson, in Missouri;

“Why This Moment”, about Richmond, Virginia’s recent marches and peaceful demonstrations; “Freedom Summer” on American Experience; “John Lewis – Get in the Way”

“Justice In Chester”, about environmental justice in Pennsylvania;

Reel South: “Rap Squad”;

“When The Waters Get Deep”, about artists’ work to heal communities torn apart by gun violence, policing and mass incarceration;

Local, USA: “Heaven Can You Hear Me?”, about Philadelphia gun violence, the leading cause of death for young Black men, its impact on families and the trauma and resilience of survivors;

“Black Ballerina”;

AfroPop: “While I Breathe, I Hope”, about the 2014 campaign of Bakari Sellers running for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina;

“We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told”, the unrecognized history of jazz in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, including George Benson, Ahmad Jamal, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Billy Strayhorn and Mary Lou Williams-all Pittsburghers;

POV: “We Are The Radical Monarchs”, a group of young girls of color on the frontlines of social justice;

“Fat Boy: The Billy Stewart Story”, about the rhythm and blues singer;

“City of Ali”, a new feature-length documentary detailing how Muhammad Ali’s death brought the people of his Kentucky hometown Louisville – and the world – together for one unforgettable week;

AfroPop: “Professional Black Girl”;

“Finding Fellowship”, which follows three racially-segregated churches in Quince Orchard, Maryland; “Stone of Hope: Moving The Dream Forward” documents the first decade of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C.;

“Gullah Roots” follows the South Carolina and Georgia Gullah/Geechee communities as they experience a homecoming to Sierra Leone in December 2019;

America ReFramed: “The Falconer”, about Rodney Stotts, one of only a handful of African American falconers in the country;

POV Shorts: “The Changing Same”, commemorating the lynching of Claude Neal in Marianna, Florida; American Experience: “Goin’ Back to T-Town”, revisiting Greenwood, a Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma;

“Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots”;

Reel South: “Flat Town”, in rural Louisiana, an annual high school football game unites a historically segregated town;

“Start Up: Genesis Block- Wilmington, NC”;

Independent Lens: “Ferguson Rises”;

“Story in the Public Square”;

“Second Opinion with Joan Lunden: “Racial Disparities In Maternal Health”;

“Queen of Swing”, 95-year-old entertainer Norma Miller;

“Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street”, once a vibrant, African-American business and entertainment district;

“Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me”;

Independent Lens: “Down A Dark Stairwell”, a Chinese American cop shoots and kills an innocent Black man in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project;

AfroPop: “Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba!”;

“Conversation with Dr. Russell Wigginton”, President of the National Civil Rights Museum;

“Korla”, the amazing story of John Roland Redd, an African American from Columbia, Missouri who migrated to Hollywood in 1939 and reinvented himself as a musician from India;

“Bird: Not Out of Nowhere”, celebrating Charlie Parker in Kansas City;

Stories from the Stage: “Growing Up Black”;

American Experience: “Jesse Owens”;

Nova: “Forgotten Genius”, about Percy Julian — not only one of the great African-American scientists of the 20th century, but an industrialist, self-made millionaire, humanitarian and civil rights pioneer;

POV: “15 to Life: Kenneth’s Story”;

Secrets of the Dead: “The Woman in the Iron Coffin”, a young African American woman from 19th century New York;

“The Central Park Five” by Ken Burns;

“Irma: My Life In Music” about Irma Thomas, the “Soul Queen of New Orleans”;

“Graceful Voices”, about the “Miami Riviera” Coral Gables and the MacFarlane Homestead Historic District;

Reel South: “You Asked for the Facts”, about student activists at Ole Miss;

“Beyond The Baton: A Conductor’s Journey”, about Thomas Wilkins, one of the few African American conductors leading a major orchestra;

Reel South: “All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk”, about the 2017 runoff for mayor of New Orleans’ two candidates: Desiree Charbonnet and LaToya Cantrell, two very different black women;

“The Long Shadow”, traces the imposition of white privilege and its ultimate manifestation: slavery;

Reel South: “Muni”, Black golfers built a vibrant culture and lasting community on a municipal golf course in Asheville, NC;

Independent Lens: “Coded Bias”, MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers most facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces or women with accuracy;

American Experience: “The Blinding of Isaac Woodard”, the 1946 incident of racial violence by police that led to the racial awakening of President Harry Truman;

“Conversation with H. Beecher Hicks”, former investment banker and current private equity investor, the President and CEO of the newly launched National Museum of African-American Music;

and, last but not least,

“The Talk – Race In America”, six stories filmed by six different producers, chronicles how families of color protect their children’s lives with “The Talk” — about what to do and how to behave if you are stopped by the police.

Also, these popular and classic multi-part series will re-air on NPT2 during the month: “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson”; “Eyes on the Prize”; and “African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”

Broadcast program highlights in order of premiere and encore airdates are listed below (check online listings for NPT and NPT2 airtimes). NPT can be seen in the Nashville area on digital channel 8.1 in HD (High Definition); NPT2 broadcasts on channel 8.2 in SD (Standard Definition). Most programs have multiple airtimes across both NPT and NPT2. The term “Encore” in these listings simply means the program has previously been broadcast in years past. All titles are also available for streaming on the PBS Video app.

MUHAMMAD ALI “Round One: The Greatest (1942-1964)”

Encore – Friday, January 28, 2022, 8:00 – 10:30 p.m. CT

Boxer Cassius Clay rises up the amateur ranks to win gold at the 1960 Olympics. He turns professional, sharpening his boxing skills and honing his genius for self-promotion. In 1964, he upsets Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion.


Encore – Tuesday, February 1, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. CT

Take a riveting ride on the Chuck Berry train, exploring the life of the man behind the music. By blending “hillbilly” music with R&B and writing impactful lyrics, Berry birthed a renaissance in popular music we now call rock and roll.

MUHAMMAD ALI “Round Two: What’s My Name? (1964-1970)”

Encore – Friday, February 4, 2022, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT

Cassius Clay publicly joins the Nation of Islam and takes the name, Muhammad Ali. When he refuses induction into the Army, he is stripped of his title and forced into exile. After three years, he returns to the ring, but he’s lost a step.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Owned: A Tale of Two Americas”

Premiere – Monday, February 7, 2022, 9:00 – 19:30 p.m. CT

Is the “American Dream” of home ownership a false promise? Postwar housing policy created the world’s largest middle class, but it set two divergent paths – one of perceived wealth and the other of systematically defunded, segregated communities.


Premiere – Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. sits down with Terry Crews and Tony Danza, both guests who overcame adversity, to discover they aren’t the first in their families to beat the odds through sheer force of will.

AMERICAN MASTERS “Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands”

Premiere – Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT

Discover an international singer who captivated royalty in Europe and defied the conscience of 1939 America. Watch rare archival footage and hear audio recordings exploring her life and career from the Metropolitan Opera to the State Department.

MUHAMMAD ALI” Round Three: The Rivalry (1970-1974)”

Encore – Friday, February 11, 2022, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT

Muhammad Ali battles his fiercest rivals, Joe Frazier and the U.S. government, as he attempts to regain the heavyweight title. He first loses to and then defeats Frazier, but he will have to beat George Foreman to become champion again.

FINDING YOUR ROOTS “Forgotten Journeys”

Premiere – Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps John Leguizamo and Lena Waithe retrace the paths of their ancestors, uncovering crucial pieces of their own identities that were lost on the journey to America.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The American Diplomat”

Premiere – Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. CT

Discover how three Black diplomats broke racial barriers at the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. Asked to represent the best of American ideals abroad while facing discrimination at home, they left a lasting impact on the Foreign Service.

FRONTLINE “American Reckoning” 

Premiere – Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 9:00 – 10:30 p.m. CT

An unsolved 1960s murder reveals an untold story of the civil rights movement and Black resistance. With Retro Report, the film draws on rarely seen footage filmed more than 50 years ago in Natchez, MS, and follows one family’s search for justice.

MUHAMMAD ALI” Round Four: The Spell Remains (1974-2016)”

Encore – Friday, February 18, 2022, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT

Muhammad Ali shocks the world by defeating George Foreman, winning back the heavyweight title and becoming the most famous man on earth. After retiring in 1981, he travels the world spreading his Islamic faith and becomes a symbol of peace and hope.

FINDING YOUR ROOTS “Songs of the Past”

Premiere – Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. accompanies Broadway stars Leslie Odom, Jr. and Nathan Lane as they meet a cast of inspiring ancestors hidden in the branches of their family trees.


Premiere – Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. CT

Explore and celebrate the life of a fearless Mississippi sharecropper-turned-human-rights-activist and the injustices in America that made her work essential.


Encore – Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 9:30–19:30 p.m. CT

Follow the courageous journey of John Lewis, whose unwavering fight for justice spanned the past 50 years, from his youth in the segregated South, through his leadership within the Civil Rights movement, to his role as a powerful voice in Congress.

AMERICAN MASTERS “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”

Encore – Friday, February 25, 2022, 8:00 – 10:00 p.m. CT

Discover the man behind the legend in this two-time Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated Stanley Nelson film featuring never-before-seen footage, including studio outtakes from his recording sessions, rare photos and new interviews.

Also broadcast in February (check online listings) is THROUGH THE BANKS OF THE RED CEDAR a heartwarming journey following the daughter of Minnesota Vikings football legend, Gene Washington, as she uncovers the story of the first integrated college football team in America; and JUST A MORTAL MAN – THE JERRY LAWSON STORY, celebrating the original lead singer of the legendary a cappella group The Persuasions.

PBS Digital Studios produces original, digital programming for YouTube and Facebook Watch, designed to engage, enlighten and entertain online audiences. The PBS Digital Studios network has more than 29 million subscribers, generating an average of 50 million views a month, and has acquired more than 3 billion lifetime views. Currently, the Studio has 18 original series streaming online, including eight series from PBS member stations. Series include the Webby Award-winning It’s Okay to Be Smart, Physics Girl and Crash Course, as well as popular series such as BrainCraft and PBS Space Time .

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