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Celebrating Black History All Month Long

In honor of Black History Month WLRN will be airing award winning documentaries highlighting the African American experience.

WLRN Celebrates Black History Month

Documentary - This four-hour series introduces a vibrant world at the heart of the Black experience.

  • Thursdays, 8pm Beginning Feb 2nd
    Making Black America

Making Black America: Through the Grapevine is a four-part series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., that chronicles the vast social networks and organizations created by and for Black people—beyond the reach of the “White gaze.” Professor Gates sits with noted scholars, politicians, cultural leaders, and old friends to discuss this world behind the color line and what it looks like today.

UNFORGIVABLE BLACKNESS: THE RISE AND FALL OF JACK JOHNSON – Documentary - Jack Johnson — the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World, whose dominance over his white opponents spurred furious debates and race riots in the early 20th century — enters the ring once again in Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, a provocative documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns.

  • Thursday Feb 2, 9pm
  • Thursday Feb 9, 9pm
Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

The two-part film shows the gritty details of Johnson's life through archival footage, still photographs, and the commentary of boxing experts such as Stanley Crouch, Bert Sugar, the late George Plimpton, Jack Newfield, Randy Roberts, Gerald Early and James Earl Jones, who portrayed Johnson in the Broadway play and film based on Johnson's life, "The Great White Hope."


  • Friday February 3, 11:30pm
The Story of March

John Lewis was a civil rights leader and American politician, serving Georgia’s 5th district since 1987 until his death in 2020. Lewis co-wrote his story with his then Congressional Aid, now Digital Director and Policy Advisor, Andrew Aydin, in the form of the graphic novel trilogy, THE STORY OF MARCH (2013). New York Times best-selling graphic novelist Nate Powell illustrates the collaborative work.

NOTHING BUT A MAN – Drama/Romance (1964) - A black man and his schoolteacher wife face discriminatory challenges in 1960s America.

  • Saturday February 4, 3pm

A young railroad worker (Ivan Dixon) and his schoolteacher wife (jazz legend Abbey Lincoln) try to build a meaningful life together in the Jim Crow South.

THE BLACK CHURCH - Documentary - An intimate four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song will explore the 400-year-old story of the black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews.

  • Sunday February 5, 7am
The Black Church

The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own, but a redemptive force for a nation whose original sin was found in their ancestors’ enslavement across the Middle Passage.

Legacy List with Matt Paxton is a compelling series about our homes, the hidden treasures, heirlooms and the precious memories attached to those items.

  • Tuesday February 7, 7pm
Legacy List 405 A Space For Healing

The 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, became a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement. Now, years later, Matt is in town to help Lisa and Kimberly, the sisters of one of the little girls who was killed, downsize their longtime home, filled with powerful memories and mementoes from the tragedy.

Exploring the life of guitarist Chuck Berry and how his blend of "hillbilly" music and R&B helped create the popular music that became rock 'n' roll.

  • Tuesday February 7, 11pm
In Their Own Words Chuck Berry

Take a riveting ride on the Chuck Berry train exploring the life, the legend, the music, and the man who is regularly credited as the father of rock and roll. We will meet the family who loved him, the players who were there for the rise, and the stars who bow to his inspiration and credit him for their own success.

INDEPENDENT LENS: THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI - Documentary - The Trials of Muhammad Ali explores the extraordinary and complex life of the legendary athlete outside the boxing ring.

  • Wednesday February 8, 10pm

Focusing on some of the most noteworthy and provocative aspects of the legendary athlete’s life, the film explores his lifelong journey of spiritual transformation. From his Louisville roots through his years in exile to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Ali’s path was that of poet to pariah to global ambassador for peace.

WHY THIS MOMENT - Documentary - A look at the protests in the streets of Richmond, Virginia, as civil unrest escalates and several confederate statues are removed across the city.

  • Friday February 10, 11:30
Why This Moment

Filmmakers Domico Phillips and Metta Bastet captured the outcry in the city as people expressed their anger over repeated acts of police brutality against people of color. Emotions ran high, violence broke out, and relationships developed through several months of marches and peaceful demonstrations. WHY THIS MOMENT documents unfolding events in Richmond’s streets, as seen through the eyes of the protesters, from the first night of civil unrest to the removal of several confederate statues across the city.

THE BLACK CHURCH PART 2 - Documentary -
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song is two-part series that traces the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, all the way down to its bedrock role as the site of African American survival and grace, organizing and resilience, thriving and testifying, autonomy and freedom, solidarity and speaking truth to power.

  • Sunday February 12, 7am
The Black Church

Part 2 - Discover how the Black church 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.

JOHN LEWIS: GET IN THE WAY - Documentary - Follow the journey of civil rights hero, congressman, and human rights champion John Lewis.

  • Tuesday February 14, 11pm
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. He was often at the center of crucial events in the Civil Rights Movement, a leader on the ground and at the front lines of some of the most chilling confrontations. Through never-before-seen interviews shot over 20 years, filmmaker Kathleen Dowdey shapes a gripping and intimate tale of personal voice and revelatory moments. Once an activist pushing from the outside, Lewis' career as a congressman solidified his stature as a strategically agile activist making noise on the inside. Here is a riveting portrait of Lewis' journey of courage, searing disappointments and hard-won triumphs over the decades as he inspires others to stand up and get in the way.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: THE BLINDING OF ISAAC WOODARD - Documentary - The story of how a horrific incident of racial violence became a powerful catalyst for the civil rights movement.

  • Thursday February 16, 9pm
American Experience 3303 Isaac Woodard

In 1946, Isaac Woodard, a Black army sergeant on his way home to South Carolina after serving in WWII, was pulled from a bus for arguing with the driver. The local chief of police savagely beat him, leaving him unconscious and permanently blind. The shocking incident made national headlines and, when an all-white jury acquitted the police chief, the blatant injustice would change the course of American history.

THE HOOK - Cultural Documentary - Chef Ricky Moore traces the journey of the bonefish from ocean to plate.

  • Friday, February 17, 11:30pm

Go behind the scenes with chef Ricky at his Durham restaurant, Saltbox Seafood Joint, to highlight the seafood traditions of North Carolina's coastline and celebrate the contributions of black chefs and fishermen to coastal food culture.

THROUGH THE BANKS OF THE RED CEDAR - Documentary - See how the first fully integrated college football team in America changed the game.

  • Tuesday, February 21, 11pm
Through The Banks Of The Red Cedar

In 1963 Michigan State Head Coach Duffy Daugherty and 23 African American young men seized the opportunity of a lifetime. Now, the daughter of Minnesota Vikings football legend Gene Washington deepens her connection to her father as she uncovers how the first fully integrated college football team in America changed the game forever.


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If you're looking for more Black History Month programming throughout the month of February, the PBS Video App also has a collection of shows celebrating the history of the African American experience. Click here for more information.

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