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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, January 29rd, 2013

 

WTVP Announces Programming Line-Up for
2013 Black History Month Commemoration

Whitney Young on the Southern Poverty Tour

– New specials include the story of music icon Sister Rosetta Tharpe from AMERICAN MASTERS and an intimate portrait of celebrated—and controversial—civil rights era leader Whitney Young from INDEPENDENT LENS

– Schedule also features 2012 Sundance Film Festival selection SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME and a story of the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

In celebration of Black History Month 2013, WTVP-Public Media, Central Illinois’ PBS station, will offer an expansive slate of programs this February, profiling the rich history, culture and contributions of African-Americans.

Discover the life, music and influence of African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) as AMERICAN MASTERS opens its 27th season with “ Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll.” Southern-born, Chicago-raised and New York-made, “She could play the guitar like nobody else … nobody.” During the 1940s-60s, Sister Rosetta introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into the secular world of rock ’n’ roll, inspiring the male icons of the genre. The flamboyant superstar, with her spectacular playing on the newly electrified guitar, had a major influence on black musicians, including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Isaac Hayes and Etta James, and also on white stars such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. The new special premieres Friday, February 22 from 8-9:00 p.m. on WTVP-HD.

Whitney M. Young, Jr. was one of the most celebrated — and controversial —leaders of the civil rights era. In “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights,” airing Sunday, February 24 from 11:00 p.m.-Midnight on INDEPENDENT LENS, follow his journey from segregated Kentucky to head of the National Urban League. Unique among black leaders, Young took the fight directly to the powerful white elite, gaining allies in business and government, including three presidents. He had the difficult tasks of calming the fears of white allies, relieving the doubts of fellow civil rights leaders and responding to attacks from the militant Black Power movement.

Other celebrities highlighted this month include the ever-engaging Esperanza Spalding. AUSTIN CITY LIMITS devotes the entire hour to this jazz/soul singer/bassist on Saturday, February 23 at 10:00 p.m. on WTVP-HD. And Audra MacDonald, acclaimed singer/actress, winner of five Tony Awards and two Grammys, continues as host of LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER on Friday, February 15 at 8 p.m. with “Ring Them Bells! Rob Fischer Celebrates Kander and Ebb.”

Returning this month is the compelling story of an unsung hero. UNDERGROUND RAILROAD: THE WILLIAM STILL STORY, airing Friday, February 15 at 9:30 p.m., explores one man’s mission to help slaves escape to freedom. The program looks at the inner workings of the Underground Railroad through detailed records, diaries and other written accounts of the freedom seekers who made their way across the U.S. border to Canada.

SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME also returns to the schedule on Friday, February 23 at 9:00 p.m. A Sundance Film Festival selection for 2012, this documentary based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Wall Street Journal senior writer Douglas A. Blackmon examines the concept of “neoslavery,” which sentenced African-Americans in the post-Emancipation South to forced labor for violating an array of laws that criminalized their everyday behavior. Award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne narrates the film.

“Each year, PBS is committed to airing historically informative programming that not only pays tribute to the men and women who sacrificed so much for our nation, but who influenced change in the face of adversity,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President, Programming. “We hope viewers will find PBS’ commemorative programming both enlightening and enjoyable.”

Other series airing throughout the year that routinely cover topics and profile guests and performers of interest to African-Americans include FRONTLINE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, Live from Lincoln Center, PBS NEWSHOUR, NEED TO KNOW, POV, TAVIS SMILEY and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (in fur coat) and Marie Knight (on the right with a fur stole) with fans after a concert in St Louis on 3 June 1947.

WTVP-Public Media, Central Illinois’ PBS station, has been serving the community since 1971 through broadcast, services and educational outreach. Now, WTVP also provides quality educational content to the world at www.wtvp.org, Facebook (facebook.com/wtvp.org) and Twitter (@WTVP).

 

 

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For further information contact Linda Miller, WTVP Vice President of Programming, at (309) 495-0591 or linda.miller@wtvp.org

 


 

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