PBS Kansas celebrates Black History Month with special shows on television

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Shawna Witherspoon, Pittsburg, was awarded a grant by the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission that provided funding for her to enlarge, frame, and hang photos from Axe Library Special Collections that capture milestones in Black history at Pittsburg State University. Her exhibit, “A Series of Artistic Inspiration,” opened Monday at PSU’s Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Black History Month is also being celebrated by PBS Kansas with special shows in February.

WICHITA, Kan. — PBS Kansas (formerly KPTS – Channel 8) has a slate of shows scheduled to honor Black History Month and recognize the contributions of Black Americans by learning more about their stories. At the same time, we are shining a light on new voices and those who are blazing new trails.

Here are the programs airing in January and February. (Download the Black History Month schedule.)

Jan. 31 - 9 p.m. / Feb. 7 – 9 p.m. / Feb. 14 – 9 p.m. The Long Song

This three-part miniseries based on Andrea Levy's award-winning novel about the end of slavery in Jamaica follows July (Tamara Lawrance), an indomitable, young slave who works on a sugarcane plantation with her detestable mistress, Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell).

Feb. 5 - Noon - Africa’s Great Civilizations

Henry Gates, Jr. explores the dynamism of 19th-century Africa, the “scramble” by European powers for its riches, and the defiant and successful stand of uncolonized Ethiopia.

Feb. 5 - 9 p.m. - In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl: Gustavo and Friends

Watch a few of Gustavo Dudamel’s favorite performances from throughout the years: “Swan Lake” with ABT principal dancer Misty Copeland, Dvorak’s Cello Concerto with Pablo Ferrández and the finale to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. 

Feb. 8 - 8 p.m. - Goin’ Back to T-Town

Hear the extraordinary history of Greenwood, a successful Black community in segregated Tulsa. In a nostalgic celebration of old-fashioned neighborhood life, Black residents of “T-Town” relive their community’s remarkable rise and ultimate decline.

Feb. 8 - 9 p.m. - Independent Lens – Women in Blue

Under the leadership of the Minneapolis Police Department’s first female chief, women officers seek gender equity, redefining what it means to protect and serve. But a fatal shooting and a new male chief imperil progress.

Feb. 11 - 10:30 p.m. - The Good Road - Nairobi, Kenya: The Power of Story

The Good Road explores the impact storytelling can have on the youth of underprivileged communities in Nairobi, Kenya.

Feb. 13 - 11 p.m. - Austin City Limits - Allen Toussaint: New Orleans Legend

AUSTIN CITY LIMITS continues its longstanding tradition of showcasing the best of original American music. In this episode, legendary New Orleans songwriter Allen Toussaint hits the ACL stage in 2014 with songs from his LP, "The Bright Mississippi," and classic hits like "Southern Nights"

Feb. 15 - 8 p.m. - American Experience – Voice of Freedom

Explore the fascinating 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.

Feb. 16 - 7 p.m. (Repeats on 2/17/21 at Noon) - Finding Your Roots – Write My Name in the Book of Life

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps musician Pharrell Williams and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons uncover extraordinary rare first-person accounts of their enslaved ancestors.

Feb. 16 - 8 p.m. Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song, Episode 1

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the roots of African American religion beginning with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the extraordinary ways enslaved Africans preserved and adapted faith practices from the brutality of slavery to emancipation.

Feb. 17 – 8 p.m. - Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song - Episode 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.

Feb. 19 - 9 p.m. - Driving While Black

Discover how the advent of the automobile brought new freedoms and new perils for African Americans on the road in this deep look into the dynamics of race, space and mobility in America over time.

Feb. 22 - 8 p.m.

Marian Anderson: Once in a Hundred Years

Marian Anderson (1897–1993) is considered one of the most important opera performers of the 20th century. The celebrated contralto was born in South Philadelphia on Feb. 27, 1897, and played a vital role in the acceptance of African Americans in classical music and other segregated performing arts genres. This documentary traces the arc of Anderson’s life and her struggles against racism and poverty. The program culminates with her battle against the Daughters of the American Revolution, which led to her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

Feb. 22 - 9 p.m. - Independent Lens – Mr. Soul!

Celebrate SOUL!, the public television variety show that shared Black culture with the nation. Ellis Haizlip developed SOUL! In 1968 as one of the first platforms to promote the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movements. Its impact continues to this day.

PBS Kansas Public Television, is our community-owned public media organization whose mission is to educate, engage, entertain and enrich Kansans. PBS Kansas Public Television’s goal is to be a primary influence for a thriving, engaged community. Learn more at kpts.org.