FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 3rd, 2014
WTVP and PBS Celebrate Black History Month
With New Programs, Local Programs and a Digital Campaign
That Unites More Than a Century of History and Culture
All this month on WTVP
- PBS Black Culture Connection Website Partners with Eunique Jones Gibson to Showcase the Making of the Because of Them, We Can™ Campaign -
In commemoration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment
to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans, PBS and local station WTVP-Public
Media for Central Illinois announced new shows, local programs and online content celebrating the
African American experience past, present and future. From an AMERICAN MASTERS profile of
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, to an INDEPENDENT LENS
documentary about the secret spy agency created to maintain segregation in 1950’s Mississippi, Black
History Month on PBS will provide programs that educate, inform and inspire viewers to learn more
about the rich culture of our nation.
The lineup begins on February 3rd at 9:00 p.m. with “American Promise,”
a powerful coming-of-age documentary from POV that follows the journey of two young African-American males from kindergarten through high
school graduation as they attend a prestigious Manhattan private school. Confronting challenges from
typical childhood growing pains to cultural identification within a predominantly white environment,
the young men and their parents push toward success and discover their own individuality in the process.
Also airing in February are two programs that celebrate the contributions of artists
such as Bobby McFerrin and Terence Blanchard in JAZZ AND THE PHILHARMONIC [Watch Preview], and Bill T. Jones and Brian Stokes
Mitchell in BECOMING AN ARTIST. These new programs air back-to-back Friday,
February 28th starting at 8:00 p.m.
On the local front, WTVP’s ongoing interview series, INTERESTING
PEOPLE, will celebrate Black History Month by showcasing four past programs
featuring African American leaders and icons.
“Our Black History Month lineup delves deep into the stories of notable people and
historical topics in a way that’s uniquely PBS,” says Donald Thoms, Vice President, Programming
and Talent Management. “We feature the work of diverse and independent producers, which remains
a staple of our content offerings year round, and I think our viewers will enjoy and even find a
little inspiration from our content this year.”
In addition to on-air programs, the PBS Black Culture Connection (BCC),
an extension of PBS.org
featuring black films, stories and discussion across PBS, announces a digital partnership with the
Because of Them, We Can™ campaign, which aims to educate and connect a new generation to
heroes who paved the way. In an original blog series called “Behind the Lens,” hosted on PBS.org/bcc, PBS will go behind
the camera of cultural architect and campaign photographer Eunique Jones Gibson, and her powerful
images, to tell the rich story and history of African American icons through the eyes of our nation’s
youth. During the month of February, the BCC will feature images from the Because of Them, We
Can™ campaign including portraits of children inspired by Harriet Tubman, James Brown, Muhammad
Ali and the Freedom Riders, along with a blog post by the photographer giving details of the subject,
the shoot and the child/children who are pictured. “Behind the Lens” will be hosted on both the
PBS Black Culture Connection and on becauseofthemwecan.com.
“Eunique has created a special link to our past through a campaign that’s inspired
and powered by our youth, our future,” said Nicole Eley-Carr, editor, PBS Black Culture Connection.
“In many ways, she’s contemporizing Black History, and PBS is excited to be a space for this evolving
dialogue that empowers young people by honoring achievers of yesterday and today.”
“I am excited and honored to share a glimpse into the making of the Because of Them,
We Can™ campaign with the PBS audience,” said Eunique Jones Gibson. “Through the ‘Behind the
Lens’ blog series I hope to further the campaign’s mission of building the esteem of both children and
adults, while helping them reflect on a living legacy of greatness.”
“Behind the Lens” will debut during Black History Month on PBS.org/bcc, alongside more
than 30 films that will be available for streaming online throughout the month of February. The
full Black History Month programming lineup is listed below (check local listings) and will also
be available for online streaming on the BCC after premiere:
POV “American Promise”
Monday, February 3, 2014, 9:00-11:00 p.m.
“American Promise” spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michčle Stephenson, middle-class African-American
parents in Brooklyn, New York, turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun,
who make their way through Manhattan’s Dalton School, one of the most prestigious private schools in
the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation,
this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of
age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance
Fridays, February 7-27, 2014, 7:30-8:00 p.m.
Interesting People—a monthly WTVP series hosted by Ed Sutkowski—features half-hour conversations
of thoughtful dialogue with ordinary individuals who have achieved extraordinary measures of success in
the arts, business, communications, education, science and sports. In celebration of Black History month,
Interesting People will showcase the following African American icons and leaders this month: The 1985 Super
Bowl-winning Chicago Bears—including Emery Moorehead (tight end), Steve McMichael (defensive tackle),
Keith Van Horne (offensive right tackle), Otis Wilson (outside linebacker), Shaun Gayle (corner back/safety)
and Mike Richardson (safety); Reverend Linda Butler; The Honorable Joe Billy McDade; and WIU President Dr.
AMERICAN MASTERS “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth”
Friday, February 7, 2014, 8:00-9:30 p.m.
Most famous for her seminal novel The Color Purple, writer/activist Alice Walker celebrates her
70th birthday. Born February 9, 1944, into a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia, she came of age
during the violent racism and seismic social changes of mid-20th-century America. Her mother, poverty
and participation in the Civil Rights Movement were the formative influences on her consciousness, becoming
the inherent themes in her writing. The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction,
Walker continues to shine a light on global human rights issues. Her dramatic life is told with poetry and
lyricism, and includes interviews with Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Howard Zinn, Gloria
Steinem, Sapphire, and Walker herself.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Spies of Mississippi”
Monday, February 10, 2014, 9:00-10:00 p.m.
Encore Sunday, February 16, 2014, 11:00 p.m.
View the story of a secret spy agency formed during the 1950s and 60s by the state of Mississippi to
preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy. Over a decade, the Mississippi State Sovereignty
Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help
infiltrate the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
(SNCC). They were granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret
files, make arrests and compel testimony. The program tracks the commission’s hidden role in important
chapters of the Civil Rights Movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the
trial of Medgar Evers and the KKK murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.
JAZZ AND THE PHILHARMONIC
Friday, February 28, 2014, 8:00-9:30 p.m.
JAZZ AND THE PHILHARMONIC is a unique, generational and wholly American
concert experience that highlights two of the greatest musical art forms the world has ever seen,
classical and jazz. With performances by artists such as Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Terence Blanchard
and Elizabeth Joy Roe, this special emphasizes the works of legendary past composers such as Bach and
Mozart with these contemporary artists. Songs are performed with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra
from the University of Miami Frost School of Music and National YoungArts Foundation alumni.
BECOMING AN ARTIST
Friday, February 28, 2014, 9:30-10:00 p.m.
Enjoy an inspiring tribute to the power of mentoring and the vital role it plays in passing on our artistic
cultural heritage from one generation to the next. The documentary features acclaimed artists across
the disciplines, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Robert Redford, Rosie Perez, Bill T. Jones, Frank Gehry,
Brian Stokes Mitchell, John Guare and Kathleen Turner working with some of the nation’s most talented
students selected by the National YoungArts Foundation. BECOMING AN ARTIST is
a celebration of our cultural vitality and the need to ensure its continuance.
The following is a sample of the more than 30 programs available for online streaming
on the BCC in February:
- The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- The March
- Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
- Independent Lens – Daisy Bates, Black Power Mixtape, Soul Food Junkies
- Memories of the March
- Bill T. Jones: A Good Man (American Masters)
- Cab Calloway: Sketches (American Masters)
- Dreams of Obama (Frontline)
- Endgame: AIDS in Black America (Frontline)
- Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- Freedom Riders (American Experience)
- Interrupters (Frontline)
- Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A-Comin’ (American Masters)
- Jesse Owens (American Experience)
- “Roots” Special on Miniseries (Pioneers of TV)
- Not in Our Town: Class Actions
- Slavery by Another Name
- Too Important to Fail (Tavis Smiley)
- Underground Railroad: The William Still Story
- Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll (American Masters)
- James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (American Masters)
- POV – Black Male Achievement documentary special series: Teaching Fatherhood, The Jazz Ticket,
The Algebra Ceiling
Other series that routinely offer programming to commemorate Black History Month include
and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL
About PBS Black Culture Connection
The PBS Black Culture Connection, featuring video from films, award-winning documentaries and popular
series like AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, links the diverse national content found on PBS with
local programs, interviews and discussions from PBS member stations and from around the web. In addition
to aggregating more than 100 digital resources about black history and culture in one place within
PBS.org, the PBS Black Culture
Connection features thematic film collections, biographies and profiles, original productions made just
for the web and local station spotlights. After exploring the site, users are encouraged to connect
with others through online discussion and to challenge themselves with a suite of quizzes. The PBS
Black Culture Connection is made available through partnerships with member stations, including WNET
and WGBH, and public media partners like the National Black Programming Consortium. It will also feature
the works of producers like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stanley Nelson and Tavis Smiley.
PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas
and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 120 million
people through television and over 29 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds
of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row
seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently
honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions.
Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital
content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and
its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners
in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available
at www.pbs.org, one of the leading
dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter,
Facebook or through our
apps for mobile devices.
For further information contact Stacey Tomczyk, WTVP Interim Program
Director, at (309) 495-0591 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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