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It's History Night! Stonewall, South Africa And MLK

On Thursday nights, WLRN looks back at the people, places and major events that have shaped South Florida, the United States and our modern world. 

On January 16, Channel 17 presents three shows pegged to these headlines and current events -- a string of historic legal and legislative successes by America's gay and lesbian community; last year's death of South African President Nelson Mandela and next week's Martin Luther King holiday:

Stonewall Uprising: American Experience (8:00 p.m.)

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. Such raids were not unusual in the late 1960s, an era when homosexual sex was illegal in every state but Illinois. That night, however, the street erupted into violent protests and demonstrations that lasted for six days.

The Stonewall riots, as they came to be known, marked a major turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States and around the world. This 90-minute film draws upon eyewitness accounts and rare archival material to bring this pivotal event to life and is based on David Carter's critically acclaimed book, Stonewall: The Riots that Sparked the Gay Revolution, StonewallUprising.

South Africa: Dear Mandela (9:30 p.m.)

When Nelson Mandela was elected president, his government promised to improve the lives of people who suffered under apartheid by providing better housing for all. A decade later, a frightening tale of betrayal began to unfold. In an effort to eradicate the slums, bulldozers were sent in to evict shantytown dwellers from their homes around cities like Durban. The result was a popular outcry from the nation's poorest citizens that became the largest social movement in post-apartheid South Africa.

This film depicts the everyday lives of three young, dynamic leaders spearheading the movement. Determined to stop the evictions, Mazwi, Zama and Mnikelo meet under cover of darkness to strategize against the new decree behind the forced relocations. They discover the policy violates the spirit of the country's new Constitution and decide to take their challenge all the way to the nation's highest court. But as the movement's existence is threatened by assassination attempts and lengthy prison detentions, the three learn about the inherent risks and steep sacrifices true leadership demands. 

Dr. Martin Luther King: Footprints Through Florida (10:30 p.m.)

An original WLRN production, this half-hour documentary recalls historic moments of the civil rights movement in Florida,  including key events that took place in Tallahassee and St. Augustine, and the writing of King's famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s segragated Brownsville neighborhood. The motel was once a bustling hangout famous for its clientele of middle class blacks, Hollywood celebrities and white jazz fans.

The film features those Floridians who knew him best. Interviews include; A.D. Moore, former chair of C.O.R.E.; Dr. Enid Pinkney, a longtime community activist; Garth C. Reeves Sr. of The Miami Times; Dr. Marvin Dunn, author Black Miami in the 20th Century; Shirley Bailey Johnson, Miami-Dade NAACP; civil rights attorney John Due and activist Patricia S. Due.

MLK Day, Black History Month

Enjoy this inspiring documentary as a prelude to WLRN's MLK Day special next Monday night, January 20, at 10 p.m. The show will feature highlights from the MLK Parade in Liberty City, the oldest MLK celebration in the state of Florida. And remember, February is Black History Month, when WLRN will be airing many more stories of African-American life and struggle in South Florida. 

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