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Television

A Celebration of Black History

Black History Month 2021

WLRN is proud to celebrate Black History Month with a lineup of award winning PBS programs.

All month long WLRN-TV brings you award winning historical documentaries highlighting the African American experience.

We honor heroes like civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis and heavyweight champion and philanthropist Muhammad Ali. We laugh along with one of the greatest comedians of all time, Richard Pryor. Then we'll take a look back at pivotal moments in the civil rights movement and the contributions made by African American entrepreneurs over the last 150 years. All this and more with over a dozen great programs to celebrate Black History Month.

So mark your calendars, set your DVR and be prepared to be enlightened and inspired.

WLRN's Black History Month Celebration

Thursday, February 2nd 10pm
Independent Lens: Tell Them We Are Rising

Independent Lens

The rich history of America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the end of slavery, flourished in the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the course of the nation for over 150 years-yet remains largely unknown.

Thursday, February 4th 11pm
John Lewis: Get In The Way

An inspiring portrait of one man cast into extraordinary times and his unhesitating dedication to seeking justice for the marginalized and ignored.

John Lewis Get in the Way

Get in the Way takes audiences on the journey of a man who fights for social justice using a radical tool: nonviolent direct action. Born into an era of profound social change, the son of sharecroppers in the Jim Crow South, Lewis made choices early in his life that propelled him to a vital role in U.S. history.

Friday, February 5th 8pm
Nothing But a Man: WLRN's Friday Night Movie

Nothing But A Man (1964)

(1964) Ivan Dixon stars as a man struggling against a racist and oppressive society who meets the love of his life. Will his inner demons destroy his chance for a future with the woman he loves?

Sunday, February 7th 9am
Driving While Black

Driving While Black
Teenie Harris Archive/Carnegie M/Getty Images
Woman posed against 1952 Lincoln Capri coupe car, with man leaning out of driver's side and wrapping his arms around her, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, c. 1952 - 1960. (Photo by Charles 'Teenie' Harris/Carnegie Museum of Art/Getty Images)

Discover how the advent of the automobile brought new mobility and freedom for African Americans but also exposed them to discrimination and deadly violence, and how that history resonates today.

Sunday, February 7th 9pm
Fight: American Experience
The Fight explores the famous 1938 heavyweight bout and finds two men who, in the shadow of war, became reluctant symbols of equality and supremacy, democracy and fascism.

The Fight

June 22, 1938. Though the Great Depression rages and war looms, the eyes of the world are on Yankee Stadium in New York where, beneath threatening skies, German Max Schmeling and American Joe Louis are squaring off for the heavyweight championship of the world. The pressure on each fighter is enormous. Joe Louis is not only fighting for the honor of the country, he is quite literally holding the hopes of all of black America in his fists. For Max Schmeling, the fight will be a demonstration of Hitler's racial theories, and should the German lose, many fear for what could happen to him. Theirs was a rivalry that would draw in two nations inching closer to war, and take the measure of two men who had been fighting all their lives.

Thursday, February 11th 11pm
American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till
The film chronicles a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store.

The Murder of Emmett Till

In August 1955, a 14-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.

Sunday, February 14th 9am

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Henry Louis Gates Jr. hosts this four-hour documentary exploring how the United States emerged from the Civil War and slavery.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Featuring interviews with historians, authors and other experts, the film explores the transformative years following the Civil War through the rise of Jim Crow segregation. The film also looks at blacks in art, music, literature and culture and the surge of political activism that eventually leads to the rise of civil rights organizations.

Sunday, February 14th 9pm
In Their Own Words: Muhammad Ali

In Their Own Words Muhammad Ali

The film follows Muhammad Ali’s rise from the Columbia Gym in Louisville, Alabama to international fame, as he transcended his great athletic achievements to become one of the most influential Americans of his time: how this once polarizing figure ultimately became a beloved and honored national hero.

Tuesday, February 16th
Independent Lens: Women in Blue

Women In Blue

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, meet a woman attempting to change the Minneapolis Police Department from the inside out.

Thursday, February 18th 11pm
Richard Pryor: Icon

Richard Pryor: ICON

Richard Pryor is cited as one of the greatest American comedians of all time, with a huge influence on comedy and this generation's top comics. He was one of the first black men ever on television and pioneered a new brand of humor. On this episode of :ICON, we delve into the life and legacy of Richard Pryor, often using his own words, to show us his lasting affect on American comedy and culture.

Sunday, February 21st 9am
Reconstruction: American After the Civil War Pt 2
Henry Louis Gates Jr. hosts this four-hour documentary exploring how the United States emerged from the Civil War and slavery.

Reconstruction America After The Civil War

Featuring interviews with historians, authors and other experts, the film explores the transformative years following the Civil War through the rise of Jim Crow segregation. The film also looks at blacks in art, music, literature and culture and the surge of political activism that eventually leads to the rise of civil rights organizations.

Sunday, February 21st 9pm
Vernon Jordan: Make it Plain

Vernon Jordan

Explore Vernon Jordan’s rise from the segregated South, his tenure as the head of several civil rights organizations, and his current position as a partner at a corporate law firm and financial behemoth Lazard. Jordan is one of the most influential African American thought leaders in America.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 10pm
BOSS: The Black Experience in Business
The history of business and entrepreneurship lies at the heart of the American story, but often absent from that narrative are the experiences of African Americans.

Boss: The Black Experience in Business

From the country’s earliest days, African Americans have embodied the qualities of innovation, risk-taking and determination to forge a path toward a better life. The new two-hour documentary traces the lives of African American entrepreneurs over 150 years, from those bound by bondage to moguls at the top of million-dollar empires.

Thursday, February 25th 11pm
American Experience: Goin Back to T-Town

Goin Back to T Town

The story of Greenwood, an extraordinary Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that prospered during the 1920s and 30s despite rampant and hostile segregation. Torn apart in 1921 by one of the worst racially-motivated massacres in the nation’s history, the neighborhood rose from the ashes.