NPT is observing Black History Month with a number of exciting programs celebrating the lives and accomplishments of African Americans. We’ll also premiere our latest history documentary, First Black Statesmen: Tennessee’s Self-Made Men, about a group of African-American legislators in the late 1800s.
Other highlights from our February offerings include:
Wednesday, February 10, at 11:30 p.m. If you’ve never seen the groundbreaking Eyes on the Prize series about the civil rights era, make sure to watch it this month. If you have seen it, now’s the chance to get reacquainted with the documentary. Start with Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, a special that reexamines the documentary almost three decades after its original broadcast on PBS in the late 1980s and includes new interviews with the series’ filmmakers and participants. We’ll air the original Eyes on the Prize series Tuesdays, February 16 and 24, at 11 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. Airing on Independent Lens, Nelson George’s A Ballerina’s Tale follows the life and career of Misty Copeland. Completed before Copeland’s history-making appointment last summer as the first African-American woman principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, the film documents her remarkable return from a career-threatening injury in 2013. Copeland has enormous crossover appeal, but the most fascinating aspect of the 33-year-old dancer is her astounding talent, which combines impressive athleticism and grace.
Later that night at 11 p.m., see Copeland’s sensuous performance in American Ballet Theatre: A History.
Friday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. Featuring interviews filmed shortly before his death last spring, B.B. King: The Life of Riley, is a new American Masters portrait of blues legend Riley “B.B.” King. Along with King’s poignant reminiscences, the documentary includes performance clips, earlier interview segments, and testimonies and commentaries by a who’s who of musicians spanning King’s long career. The film not only tells King’s story, but also that of black life in the Mississippi Delta and the evolution of the blues. Morgan Freeman narrates.
Monday, Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. First Black Statesmen: Tennessee’s Self-Made Men is the first documentary in our new Citizenship Project about how different groups of people have fought for, obtained and maintained the rights and access we commonly associate with American citizenship. First Black Statesmen tells the story of 14 men who defied the odds to become state legislators. Eleven of the men had been born slaves and all faced the rampant racial animosity endured by freedmen after the war.
Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is the first feature-length film about the movement that grew out of the turbulent 1960s. Using archival footage and interviews with people who were there (as members and supporters, opponents or observers), the documentary aims to separate the history from the myths. Join us for an Indie Lens Pop-Up Screening of the documentary followed by a panel discussion with Fisk University professors February 13 at the Nashville Public Library.
Friday, February 26, begins at 8 p.m. with Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles, in which a roster of musicians perform Charles’ arrangements at the White House. But the night belongs to New Orleans pianist Fats Domino – it’s his 88th birthday, after all – and we’ll celebrate at 9 p.m. with Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll about Domino and his role in launching the rock era.
Find our full programming lineup at http://www.wnpt.org/schedule/
Black History Month programming on NPT is made possible through the financial support of