Black History Month may fall on the shortest month of the year, but network and cable television stations have jumped on board to celebrate our rich history. PBS, for example, will highlight the achievements and triumphs of African-Americans with five new documentaries.
“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.”
VH1 will also kick off their celebration of Black History Month with “Finding The Funk” (narrated by Questlove) and the NAACP Image Awards is back on a brand new network (TVOne), to give tribute to the best and brightest in Hollywood.
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We’ve rounded up a list of TV specials and documentaries which honor our past, present and future that you have to see this February:
8:00 PM EST – “The Gabby Douglas Story” – Starring Imani Hakim, Regina King, Sydney Mikayla
The story of the international gymnastics phenomenon who overcame overwhelming odds to become the first African-American ever to be named Individual All-Around Champion in artistic gymnastics at the Olympic Games.
10:00 PM EST – “American Promise”
“American Promise” spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle 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.
10:00 PM EST- “Finding The Funk”
Narrated by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots, the documentary showcases how funk music’s infectious groove paved the way for groundbreaking genres such as hip-hop and house music. The funk explosion is traced from Dayton, Ohio to Detroit via interviews with pioneers like Sly Stone, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Nona Hendryx, Nile Rodgers, Maceo Parker,Bernie Worrell, and Steve Arrington and their descendants Mike D, D’Angelo, Sheila E and Shock G.
9:00 PM EST- “Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth”
Most famous for her seminal novel The Color Purple, writer/activist Alice Walker celebrates her 70th birthday. The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Walker continues to shine a light on global human rights issues.
10:00 PM EST- “Spies of Mississippi”
This is the story of a secret spy agency formed during the 1950s and 1960s 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.
8:00 P.M. EST- 45th NAACP IMAGE AWARDS
Recognized as the nation’s premier multi-cultural awards show, the event celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture and writing & directing), as well as individuals or groups who promote social justice.
9:00 P.M.- BET Honors
Celebrating its seventh year with new host Wayne Brady, BET Honors celebrates and recognizes the gifts and contributions of six African-American exceptional leaders. Each year this powerful and inspirational event aims the spotlight on the achievements of distinguished leaders in the fields of music, literature, entertainment, media, service and education.
11:00 P.M. – BET TAKES HOLLYWOOD
Shaun Robinson of Access Hollywood will sit down with this year’s top African-American nominees along with past Oscar winners to candidly discuss their amazing race to the Academy Awards. Plus, she’ll take a look back at the Oscar’s best-dressed stars and look into the future to predict which stars will impress the Academy next year in the network’s third annual Oscar special.
11:00 P.M. – “The Tanning of America”
The four-part, four-hour documentary series, based on a best-selling book by author, entrepreneur, advertising executive and record executive Steve Stoute, is a thorough examination of hip-hop as a cultural movement, whose profound influence in music, film, television, fashion, business, race relations and politics eventually paved the way for the election of President Barack Obama.
10:00 P.M. EST – “Unsung Hollywood”
This all-new series reflects on the life and careers of Hollywood’s African-American entertainment stars of film and television. In its first season, the series will feature such artists as Pam Grier, Dick Gregory and Sheryl Underwood, as well as comedians like Robin Harris and Flip Wilson.
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