Soldier & Citizen, NPT’s original documentary preview event coming Feb. 23, 28

Military service has historically been seen as a pathway to new rights and legitimacy for minority groups, offering battlefield sacrifice as evidence of worthiness. Through riveting stories of Tennessee’s military history, Nashville Public Television’s Soldier & Citizen explores how the ‘blood debt’ has been leveraged to further the cause for full citizenship.

Soldier & Citizen, the fourth documentary in Nashville Public Television’s Citizenship series, premieres this month on NPT. The documentary examines how minority groups, specifically African Americans and women, leveraged their ‘blood debt’ of military service to further their cause for full citizenship. Soldier & Citizen premieres Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8 pm on NPT and will be available for online viewing at and streaming at <wnpt.org/video>. An encore presentation airs Sunday, March 3, at 2:30 pm during a marathon of Citizenship Project documentaries on NPT (noon to 3:30 pm).

NPT will also host a free preview screening on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 2-3:30 pm at the Tennessee State Museum (1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, 37208). The event will include a panel discussion with four experts featured in the documentary: Dr. Lisa M. Budreau, senior curator of military history at the Tennessee State Museum; Dr. Carole Bucy, professor of history at Volunteer State Community College; Jo Ann McClellan, founder/president of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County; and Dr. Reavis L. Mitchell, Jr., professor of history and Dean of the School of Humanities and Behavioral Social Sciences at Fisk University.

Produced by Ed Jones, the documentary covers the Civil War, the two World Wars and the Vietnam War, delving into the heroic efforts of soldiers during wartime (including the Buffalo Soldiers and the Tuskegee Airmen) as well as the often shameful ways they were treated during their service and upon their return to their communities. Women’s service during wartime is paired with a survey of how suffragists hoped the exploits of nurses during the First World War would help convince Congress and President Woodrow Wilson to support their quest for voting rights.

In addition to the panelists, others appearing in the documentary include: Sgt. Charles L. Henson, 598th Field Artillery Battalion, 92nd Infantry Division; Jim Hoobler, senior curator of art and architecture, Tennessee State Museum; Ronald R. Krebs, Ph.D., professor of political science; University of Minnesota; Bobby L. Lovett, Ph.D., professor of history and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Tennessee State University (retired); Carroll Van West, Ph.D., director, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

NPT’s Citizenship Project is a series of original productions about how different groups have fought for, obtained and maintained the rights and access we commonly associate with American citizenship. These include the right to vote, the right to receive a public education, the right to be considered equal before the law, and the right to worship the religion of one’s choice. Over the course of the project, the programs will cover Tennessee history from the end of the Civil War through the 1960s, exploring civil rights and women’s suffrage among other topics.

The Citizenship Project is made possible by the support of Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and the First Tennessee Foundation.