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Series, specials honor Black history throughout February on Arkansas PBS

Posted 25 Jan 2021

‘The Black Church,’ local digital series, YouTube playlist among featured content

CONWAY, Ark. (AETN) — Arkansas PBS honors Black history this month with a full slate of programming, beginning with the new local digital series “So You Want to Talk About Race” as part of Arkansas PBS’s ongoing commitment to showcase diverse and inclusive content all year long. A select playlist of Black programming, including local series “The Glow With Big Piph,” “Healing the Divide,” “Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street” and a special community event from the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, can be found at

“So You Want to Talk About Race,” premiering Wednesday, Jan. 27, at, features New York Times best-selling author Ijeoma Oluo and Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch of Arkansas State University in a frank and honest exchange about how to discuss race, what talks on race don’t have to be, and practical tools for having hard conversations. Oluo’s book "So You Want to Talk About Race" is a jumping off point for thoughtful discourse that examines race in America and guides viewers through many different subjects including privilege, oppression, writing a book about race and more. The series can be watched in 18 short segments by topic.

“The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song” will premiere Tuesdays, Feb. 16 and 23, at 8 each night. This four-hour, two-part series with Henry Louis Gates Jr. retraces the 400-year-old-story of the Black church in America, exploring its role as the site of African-American organizing, resilience, autonomy, freedom and solidarity. Participants include gospel legend Yolanda Adams, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church, singers Jennifer Hudson and John Legend, Rev. Al Sharpton, scholar Cornel West and Oprah Winfrey. Arkansas PBS will host screening opportunities of “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song.” Additional information will be available at

“American Experience: Voice of Freedom” will premiere Monday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m. This film explores the life of celebrated singer Marian Anderson. In 1939, after being barred from performing at Constitution Hall because she was Black, she triumphed at the Lincoln Memorial in what became a landmark moment in American history.

“Independent Lens: Mr. SOUL!” will premiere Monday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. During the civil rights movement, one African-American pioneer ushered giants and rising stars of Black culture onto public television. 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, as well as the man who guided it. Featured performances include music legends like Earth Wind and Fire, Al Green, Patti LaBelle and Stevie Wonder, and interviews with Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin and more.

A complete playlist of related programming, including local series “The Glow With Big Piph” and “Healing the Divide,” as well as “Dream Land: Little Rock’s West 9th Street,” can be found at

Other programming airing on Arkansas PBS and streaming at will include:

·        “Antiques Roadshow: Celebrating Black Americana,” Monday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. Highlights include an 1821 U.S. citizenship certificate for George Barker, a free man of color; an African-American beauty book written by Madam C.J. Walker, the first American female millionaire; and a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

·        “The Jazz Ambassadors,” Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 8 p.m. Great American jazz artists Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington faced a painful dilemma when asked to travel the world as cultural ambassadors. Leslie Odom, Jr. narrates a Cold War story of music, diplomacy and civil rights.

·        “American Experience: Going Back to T-Town,” Monday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. This film tells 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, and by 1936 boasted the largest concentration of Black-owned businesses in the U.S., known as “Black Wall Street.”

·        “Marching Forward,” Friday, Feb. 12, at 9 p.m. This film shares the story of two high school band directors – one black, one white – whose love of music and dedication to their students inspired an atypical collaboration in the segregated South.

·        “Dave Chappelle: The Mark Twain Prize,” Friday, Feb. 12, at 10 p.m. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presents the 22nd annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Dave Chappelle.

·        “Austin City Limits: Allen Toussaint: New Orleans Legend,” Saturday, Feb. 13, at 11 p.m. The veteran writer/musician has been the master of modern New Orleans music since the ’50s, penning or producing hits for Ernie K-Doe, Lee Dorsey, Glen Campbell, the Pointer Sisters and LaBelle, among many, many others. He’s also cut a series of acclaimed solo records.

·        “Finding Your Roots: Write My Name in the Book of Life,” Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. Henry Louis Gates Jr. helps musician Pharrell Williams and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons uncover extraordinarily rare first-person accounts of their enslaved ancestors.

·        “Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America,” Friday, Feb. 19, at 8 p.m. This film examines how the advent of the automobile not only brought new mobility and freedom for African Americans, but also exposed them to discrimination and deadly violence, and how that history resonates today.

The complete schedule and all the ways to watch are available at

Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. Arkansas PBS delivers daily, essential, local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at, on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro) and KETZ (El Dorado).