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Celebrate Black History Month with WTIU and WFIU


Discover inspiring stories about America’s Black creators and changemakers during Black History Month. Learn about African American music, art, and tradition and how they contributed to America’s culture. Further, explore how bold voices continue to fight for justice and equality for Black Americans today.

WTIU programs:

Monday, January 29
10:00 PM – Independent Lens: Razing Liberty Square
Liberty City, Miami, was home to one of the oldest segregated public housing projects in the U.S. Now with rising sea levels, the neighborhood’s higher ground has become something else: real estate gold. Wealthy property owners push inland to higher ground, creating a speculators’ market in the historically Black neighborhood previously ignored by developers and policy-makers alike.

Tuesday, January 30

9:00 PM – Becoming Frederick Douglass
Discover how a man born into slavery became one of the most influential voices for democracy in American history. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson explores the role Douglass played in securing the right to freedom for African Americans.

Thursday, February 1

8:30 PM – David Holt’s State of Music: Jontavious Willis
Guitarist and singer Jontavious Willis embodies the rhythms and feeling of traditional country blues. Host David Holt joins Willis in one of his original songs, “The World Is in a Tangle.”

Friday, February 2
9:00 PM – American Masters: Little Richard: The King and Queen of Rock and Roll

Experience the meteoric rise and enduring legacy of Little Richard. This portrait of the “King and Queen of Rock and Roll” explores his far-reaching influence as well as his advocacy for the rights of Black artists in the music industry.

Sunday, February 4

12:00 PM – The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song
Part One
Host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 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 under the brutal realities of human bondage.

3:00 PM – The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song
Part Two
The series continues with the Black church expanding its reach to address social inequality and minister to those in need, from the exodus out of the Jim Crow South during the Great Migration to the heroic phase of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Tuesday, February 6
9:00 PM – American Masters: How it Feels to be Free

The inspiring story of how six iconic African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson, and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.

Friday, February 9
9:00 PM – Gospel Live! Presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Enjoy a concert celebration honoring the legacy of Gospel music in America. As a companion to GOSPEL, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., secular and gospel artists sing their favorite gospel classics.

Monday, February 12
9:00 PM – Gospel
The Gospel Train/Golden Age of Gospel
From the blues to hip hop, African Americans have been the driving force of sonic innovation for over a century. Musical styles come and go, but there's one sound that has been a constant source of strength, courage and wisdom from the pulpit to the choir lofts on any given Sunday, Follow Gospel’s sonic influences of blues and jazz music.

Tuesday, February 13
9:00 PM – Gospel
Take the Message Everywhere/Gospel's Second Century
In the second part of this special miniseries, gospel goes mainstream, taking the good news everywhere. And as the years progress, gospel and preaching achieve platinum-selling success. 

Wednesday, February 14
10:00 PM – Secrets of the Dead: The Woman in the Iron Coffin

Follow a team of forensic experts as they investigate the preserved remains of a young African American woman from 19th century New York and reveal the little-known story of early America’s free Black communities.

Friday, February 16
10:30 PM – Great Performances: The Magic of Spirituals
Glimpse behind the curtain at opera legends Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman’s famed concert at Carnegie Hall on March 18, 1990, featuring performance clips and new interviews with opera star Angel Blue, Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb, and more.

Saturday, February 24
10:30 PM – Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church
Witness the legendary guitarist in full flight at the 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival before the largest US audience of his career. This critically acclaimed film combines color, 16mm multi-camera footage of Hendrix’s unforgettable concert in its original performance sequence together with a new documentary that traces his journey to the festival amidst the dark shadow of civil rights unrest.

Sunday, February 25

5:00 PM – Reviving the West Baden Colored Church: A Labor of Love
Discover the story of the birth, growth, decline, and rebirth of the First Baptist (Colored) Church in West Baden Springs, IN. Beginning in the early 1900s, there was a large thriving community of African Americans who worked at the region’s resorts. The community established the church under Jim Crow laws and persevered under difficult conditions with the persistence of hope over hate. Over decades the church remained the cornerstone of the African American community until its decline. The film chronicles the challenges of the extensive restoration that took place over five years leading to its revival. (Repeats February 29 at 8pm)

Monday, February 26
8:00 PM – Major Taylor: Champion of the Race
By the time he was in his early 20s, Major Taylor had captured the world cycling championship, the American cycling crown, and had set dozens of world speed cycling records – all while having to endure withering racial pressures. Retrace the life and legacy of an American civil rights pioneer who set more than 20 world records in speed cycling during the heart of Jim Crow America.

9:30 PM – Ken Burns: Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali brings to life one of the most indelible figures of the 20th century, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who captivated millions of fans across the world with his mesmerizing combination of speed, grace, and power in the ring, and charm and playful boasting outside of it. Ali insisted on being himself unconditionally and became a global icon and inspiration to people everywhere.

Thursday, February 29
9:30 PM – Freedom Songs: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement
Explore how music helped sustain and was in turn inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. Includes archival performances and interviews with many of the greatest artists and musicians from the soul era and beyond.

WFIU programs:

Friday, February 2
8:00 PM – Afterglow: The Two Williams: Spencer and Clarence
For the first week of Black History Month, we explore the songs of two unrelated black jazz composers from the early 20th century: Spencer Williams and Clarence Williams. These two Louisiana natives wrote early jazz standards like “Basin Street Blues” and “Baby Won't You Please Come Home.”

Saturday, February 3
1:00 PM – The Metropolitan Opera: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

Anthony Davis – New Production/Met Premiere
Kazem Abdullah, conductor
Will Liverman (Malcolm), Victor Ryan Robertson (Elijah/Street), Leah Hawkins (Louise/Betty), Raehann Bryce-Davis (Ella), Michael Sumuel (Reginald) 

Wednesday, February 7
10:00 PM – The New York Philharmonic: The March to Liberation
This multimedia event delves into the African American experience.
Leslie B. Dunner, conductor  
Ryan Speedo Green, bass-baritone 
Janinah Burnett, soprano 
Rodrick Dixon, tenor 
Simon Estes, speaker 
Ebony Spicer, treble 
New York Philharmonic Chorus, dir. Malcom J. Merriweather 
WILLIAM GRANT STILL: Symphony No. 2, Song of a New Race 
ADOLPHUS HAILSTORK: Done Made My Vow, A Ceremony 

Wednesday, February 9
8:00 PM – Afterglow: Dynamic Dakota Staton
This week, we take a listen to the work of jazz vocalist Dakota Staton, famous for her rendition of the song “The Late, Late Show.” 

9:00 PM – Night Lights: The Teacher: Billy Taylor
Billy Taylor was a jazz pianist, educator, broadcaster, composer of a civil rights anthem, and the man who dubbed jazz “America’s classical music.” We’ll hear his story and some of his recordings, plus excerpts from his work as a television music director and jazz journalist.

Friday, February 16
9:00 PM – Night Lights: Suite History: Jazz Composers and the African American Odyssey
Duke Ellington, Oliver Nelson, John Carter, and Wynton Marsalis all composed extended works that offered musical, historical depictions of the African American experience. We’ll hear music from all four and talk with historian Michael McGerr.

Friday, February 23
8:00 PM – Afterglow: The Musical World of Harry Belafonte
On this episode, we take a look at singer Harry Belafonte. A film idol, a celebrated stage performer, and a best-selling recording artist, Harry Belafonte became a star in the 1950s, and then used his stardom to fight for equality in the 1960s.

9:00 PM – Night Lights: Charles Mingus and Debut Records
Discover the story of how bassist and composer Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach formed their own record label to further their creative efforts in the early 1950s.