Screenings and Civil War Songs and More: an Amazing May at NPT

There’s always plenty going on here at NPT, both on and off-air, but May is particularly busy with screenings and special broadcasts. Here’s a quick round-up:

May could easily be called “Freedom Riders Month” with the many events going on to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the historic rides. In addition to the national American Experience broadcast of Stanley Nelson’s documentary, Freedom Riders, on Monday, May 16 at 8:00 p.m. CT on NPT and PBS stations nationwide, we’re hosting a free public screening of the documentary at the Belcourt Theatre and producing our own special panel discussion on the Freedom Rides.

With the support of Baker Donelson, our screening will take place at the Belcourt Theatre in Hillsboro Village on Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:00 p.m.). John Seigenthaler, renowned journalist, First Amendment advocate and host of NPT’s A Word on Words, will lead a post-screening Q&A, with original riders Joan Mulholland, Rip Patton, Charles Person, Robert Singleton and Helen Singleton expected to attend. The screening is free and open to the public, and as of this posting, filling up quick. Those wishing to attend are asked to rsvp to or indicate they are attending on the “events” section at NPT’s Facebook Page (

The screening will also coincide with the arrival in Nashville of a bus filled with original riders and students selected from around the nation who are retracing the historic rides. The Bus will be parked outside the Belcourt for the screening. Come help us greet these heroes at the screening, and follow the rides on Twitter @freedomridesPBS and #pbsbus. Even if you can’t make the screening, it would be astounding to have a crowd gathered outside the theatre and in the neighborhood to cheer the bus’s arrival between 6:00 and 6:30.

Taping today in front of a live audience in NPT’s Studio A is Freedom Riders: The Nashville Connection, a panel discussion hosted by Seigenthaler featuring several original riders whose journey originated in Nashville, among them Patton, Susan Wilbur Wamsley, Catherine Burke Brooks and Matthew Walker. The program will be broadcast on NPT on Friday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m. and again Wednesday, May 18 at 9:00 p.m.

Our ITVS Community Cinema Nashville series continues this month with a film of strong local interest.  Set in Shelbyville, less than 60 miles from Nashville, Welcome to Shelbyville focuses on a small southern town as it grapples with rapid demographic change and issues of immigrant integration. The film captures the complexity of the African American, Latin, white, and Somali subjects as their lives intertwine against the backdrop of a crumbling economy and the election of a new president. Join us at the downtown Nashville Public Library for this free screening and discussion, with filmmaker Kim Snyder expected to attend, on Saturday, May 14 at 3:00 p.m., with a reception at 2:30. The film airs on NPT and PBS stations nationwide on Tuesday, May 24 at 9:00 p.m. CT.

TN Civil War 150 Songs and StoriesOur Tennessee Civil War 150 series, commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War, continues this month with Civil War Songs and Stories. Featuring modern interpretive performance from artists including Crystal Gayle, William Lee Golden, Les Kerr and others, this documentary explores the powerful impact of music during the Civil War era.  The program covers a broad range of musical expression including slave spirituals, songs of patriotism, valor and victory, death and defeat, sorry and suffering.  At the heart of this presentation are the stories of the people who reflect the reality of the emotional messages these songs tell. It premieres Wednesday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. and will be rebroadcast Friday, May 27 at 7:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Our Antiques and Fine Arts Appraisal Day is becoming a fun annual tradition. With appraisers seen on your favorite NPT Antiques Appraisal Series, the event takes place Saturday, May 21 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. The charge per item for each verbal appraisal will be $10 and all proceeds directly benefit Nashville Public Television. For more information, and specific info on what you can and cannot get appraised, please visit our web site.

We also have a new three-part Nature series, Bears of the Last Frontier,  starting Sunday May 8, the National Memorial Day concert on Sunday, May 29 and more great programming, so be sure to check our schedule online.

Hope to see you at one of our screenings, or as always, hear from you about shows you’ve watched on NPT.


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