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25 shows to watch during Black History Month on PBS SoCal and KCET

Programs to help viewers increase awareness and understanding of racial history in America

OW Staff Writer | 1/27/2021, 9:42 a.m.
PBS SoCal and KCET have announced a programming slate in honor of Black History Month...
Henry Louis Gates and Jennifer Hudson. PBS

PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California’s flagship PBS organizations for new PBS program premieres as well as award-winning, original content, have announced a programming slate in honor of Black History Month. Both stations will showcase a curated lineup of enlightening programs to help viewers increase awareness and understanding of racial history in America.

One of those programs in particular, THE BLACK CHURCH “This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song” hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will be the focus of a series of virtual events – both locally and nationally. Local viewers will have the opportunity to attend one of two events. The first, will prompt interested viewers to send in a video of them singing along with a classic recorded gospel song, with select clips shared at an upcoming event featuring a discussion centered around the modern gospel music’s history in Los Angeles. A second event will feature an archival deep dive to examine the untold history of the Black Church in Los Angeles, with panelists sharing relevant stories in a community storytelling style screening. More details on both regional events will be available at pbssocal.org/blackchurch.

Other select content slated to air is listed as follows (*schedule subject to change):

Week 1:

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW: “Celebrating Black Americana” – Mon., Feb. 1 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal will feature an 1821 U.S. citizenship certificate for a free man of color; a beauty book by Madam C.J. Walker, the first American female millionaire; and a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

“HOLLYWOOD’S ARCHITECT: The Paul R. Williams Story” – Tues., Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal. The special tells the story of African American architect Paul R. Williams as he defied the odds to become one of the most notable architects in history.

“The Jazz Ambassadors” – Wed., Feb. 3 at 10 p.m. on KCET. The Cold War and civil rights collide in this story of music, diplomacy and race.

LOST LA: “Paul Revere Williams” – Thurs., Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. on KCET. African-American architect Paul Revere Williams contributed to some of the city’s most recognizable civic structures — all while confronting racial barriers.

LOST LA “Shindana Toy Company” – Thurs., Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. on KCET is a look at the lasting impact of one Operation Bootstrap initiatives, the Shindana Toy Company, which left a lasting mark on the American doll industry by manufacturing ethnically correct black dolls.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Muhammad Ali” – Thurs., Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. on PBS SoCal follows Muhammad Ali’s rise from Columbia Gym in Louisville, Kentucky to international fame, as he transcended his great athletic achievements to become one of the most influential Americans of his time.

AMERICAN MASTERS: “Charley Pride: I’m Just Me” – Thurs., Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. on PBS SoCal traces the improbable journey of Charley Pride, from his humble beginnings as a sharecropper’s son on a cotton farm in segregated Sledge, Mississippi to his career as a Negro American League baseball player and his meteoric rise as a trailblazing country music superstar.

JAZZ: “Swing: Pure Pleasure” – Thurs., Feb. 4, 18 and 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal. As the Great Depression drags on, jazz comes as close as it has ever come to being America’s popular music. From prolific documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

“Dave Chappelle: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” – Thurs., Feb. 4 at 10:30 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Fri., Feb. 5 at 10 p.m. on KCET. An outstanding lineup of entertainers gathers in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to salute Dave Chappelle, recipient of the 22nd annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: “The Murder of Emmett Till” – Sat., Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. on KCET. The murder and the trial that horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement.

ARTBOUND “How Sweet the Sound: Gospel in Los Angeles” – Sun., Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. on KCET. Artists like James Cleveland and Aretha Franklin captured live recordings of the church experience of South Central and the voices and sentiment of the people coming together to give birth to a new gospel sound and the election of L.A.’ s first black mayor, Tom Bradley.

MASTERPIECE: “The Long Song” – Sun., Feb. 7 and Feb. 14 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal. Tamara Lawrance and Hayley Atwell star in this three-part miniseries based on Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel about the end of slavery in Jamaica.

Week 2:

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: “Goin’ Back to T-Town” – Mon., Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Sat., Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. on KCET. The story of Greenwood, an extraordinary Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that prospered during the 1920s and 30s despite rampant and hostile segregation.

ARTBOUND “The Watts Towers Arts Center” – Sun., Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. on KCET.

The Watts Towers Arts Center was founded by artists and educators in the 1960s and has been a beacon of art and culture in the community for decades. This episode features the work of artists including Noah Purifoy, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar, Charles White and Mark Steven Greenfield.

Week 3:

Marian Anderson

PBS

Marian Anderson

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: “Voice of Freedom” – Mon., Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Sat., Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. on KCET. In 1939, after being barred from performing at Constitution Hall because she was Black, Marian Anderson triumphed at the Lincoln Memorial in what became a landmark moment in American history.

“JOSEPHINE BAKER: The Story of an Awakening” – Mon., Feb. 15 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Wed., Feb. 10 at 10 p.m. on KCET. Baker, born into poverty in Missouri in 1906, moved to France where she became a dancer hailed as the Queen of Paris, joined the French Resistance and became a civil rights activist.

FINDING YOUR ROOTS: “Write My Name in the Book of Life” – Tues., Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. on PBS SoCal. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps musician Pharrell Williams and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons uncover extraordinarily rare first-person accounts of their enslaved ancestors.

“THE BLACK CHURCH: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song” Part One – Tues., Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Sun., Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. on KCET. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes viewers on a two-part journey through the rich and complex history of the Black Church to reveal how this uniquely American institution has influenced nearly every chapter of the African American story. Part One explores the roots of African American religion beginning with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the extraordinary ways enslaved Africans preserved and adapted their faith practices from the brutality of slavery to emancipation.

AMERICAN MASTERS: “Maya Angelou” – Wed., Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. on KCET. The story of iconic writer, poet, actress and activist Maya Angelou whose life intersected some of the most significant moments in the recent history of the United States of America.

“Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America” – Fri., Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal. Discover how the advent of the car brought African Americans new freedom but also dangers.

Week 4:

Mr. Soul

PBS

Mr. Soul

INDEPENDENT LENS: “Mr. Soul!” – Mon., Feb. 22 at 10 p.m. on PBS SoCal. In 1968 Ellis Haizlip created the groundbreaking PBS series SOUL!, which became one of the most culturally significant television shows in U.S. history. “Mr. SOUL!” delves into this critical moment in television history. Featuring performances from music legends like Earth Wind and Fire, Al Green, Patti LaBelle and Stevie Wonder, and interviews with Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin and more.

“THE BLACK CHURCH: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song” Part Two – Tues., Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and Sun., Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. on KCET. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes viewers on a two-part journey through the rich and complex history of the Black Church to reveal how this uniquely American institution has influenced nearly every chapter of the African American story. Part Two follows the Black church as it expanded its reach to address social inequality and minister to those in need, from the Jim Crow South to the heroic phase of the civil rights movement and the Black church’s role in the present.

AMERICAN MASTERS: “Lorraine Hansberry” – Wed., Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. on KCET. Explore the inner life and works of the activist, playwright and author of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry. Narrated by actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson and featuring the voice of Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as Hansberry.

GREAT PERFORMANCES: “Twilight: Los Angeles” – Wed., Feb. 24 at 10 p.m. on KCET. Anna Deavere Smith’s riveting theatrical account of the 1992 riots from multiple points of view continues to reverberate powerfully within the context of today’s current events.

“Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter” – Sat., Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. on KCET. This film explores the little-known history of the African American men hired to work on railroad sleeping cars beginning in the late 1860s.

These shows and more are available to stream on the free PBS Video App.