In recognition of Black History Month in February, PBS nationally will highlight programming that shines a light on racial issues and African American history. Additionally, Nashville Public Television’s 2020 lineup of Black History Month programs include a mix of historical documentaries, celebrations of cultural icons and spotlights on little-known or forgotten events. Highlights this year on NPT include two documentaries about Nashville by Nashville filmmakers, Deep Fried Gold: The Nashville Hot Chicken Story, by LaQuita James and Don Clark, and The Past Is Prologue: Cameron Class of 1969, by Mark Schlicher, which premiere on NPT Sunday, Feb. 16, at 10 and 10:30 p.m., respectively. Explore more about these and other programs at: wnpt.org/black-history-month
Here’s a schedule of programs to watch during Black History Month in February on NPT:
Monday, Feb. 3 at 11:30 p.m. Afropop: My Friend Fela; Birth of Afrobeat. Two short films about Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.
Independent Lens “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code” premieres Monday, February 10 at 9:00 p.m. The effects of the July 1995 Chicago heat wave claimed the lives of more than 700 mostly poor, elderly and African American residents. This story of life, death and the politics of crisis in an American city reveals the less newsworthy but long-term issues of pernicious poverty, social isolation and racism.
Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Finding Your Roots “Slave Trade” Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the family histories of film director Ava DuVernay, actor S. Epatha Merkerson and musician Questlove to the unexpected places where their ancestors were scattered by slavery. Followed at 8 p.m. American Experience “The Fight” A documentary about the 1938 heavyweight bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. Encore presentation.
Sunday, Feb. 16 at 10 p.m. Deep Fried Gold: The Nashville Hot Chicken Story Local filmmakers LaQuita James and Don Clark trace the origins of the Nashville-centric food craze from its roots in the black community and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack to the phenomenon it is today. Followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Past Is Prologue: Cameron Class of 1969 Local filmmaker Mark Schlicher’s documentary recounts a significant, but largely forgotten chapter of Nashville’s civil rights struggle. In 1968, all-black Cameron High School played a basketball tournament against all-white Stratford High School. The ensuing protest and scuffles set off a chain of events that became a community-wide civil rights protest led by famed attorney Avon Williams Jr.
Monday, Feb. 17 at 11:30 p.m. Afropop Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela by award-winning director Thomas Allen Harris is an intimate tale about an African-American family, the anti-apartheid movement, and the quest for reconciliation between a father and son. Spit on the Broom highlights The United Order of Tents, a secret organization of black women founded during the height of the Underground Railroad.
Monday, Feb. 24 at 9 p.m. Independent Lens “Always in Season” follows the tragedy of African American teenager Lennon Lacy, who in August 2014 was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, N.C. His death was ruled a suicide, but Lennon’s mother, Claudia, believes her son was lynched. Claudia’s fight for justice intersects with other communities striving to acknowledge the victims of lynching, repair the damage and achieve reconciliation. Followed at 11:30 p.m. by Afropop Amina, the journey of an African immigrant woman living in Istanbul, Turkey and the cultural challenges she faces as she pursues her dreams.
Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. American Masters “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” Stanley Nelson’s biography of the trumpet great uses never-before-seen footage, including studio outtakes from his recording sessions, rare photos and new interviews.
Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 9 p.m. The Past Is Prologue: Cameron Class of 1969 Encore presentation. Followed at 9:30 p.m. by First Black Statesmen: Tennessee’s Self-Made Men NPT’s original production, which tells the story of 14 men who defied the odds to become state legislators in the era immediately following the Civil War. Eleven of the men had been born slaves and all faced the rampant racial animosity endured by freedmen after the war.
Thursday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story Courtney B. Vance narrates this profile of the “Architect to the Stars,” whose life story could have been dreamed up by a Hollywood screenwriter. In a career spanning from the early 1920s to the early ’70s, Paul R. Williams designed homes for Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, William Holden, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Williams also designed St. Jude Hospital free of charge for his friend Danny Thomas. His other commercial projects included the Beverly Hills Hotel, the original MCA Headquarters Building and LAX Airport. He was one of the most successful architects of his time, but at the height of his career he wasn’t always welcome in the buildings he designed because of his race.
For more information – including programs available for streaming wnpt.org/black-history-month.
Nashville Public Television, Nashville’s PBS station, is available free and over-the-air to nearly 2.4 million people throughout the Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky viewing area. NPT’s three broadcast channels are NPT, the main channel; secondary channel NPT2; and NPT3, a 24/7 PBS Kids channel. NPT is also available to anyone in the world through its array of NPT digital services, including wnpt.org, YouTube channels and the PBS video app. NPT provides, through the power of traditional television and interactive digital communications, quality educational, cultural and civic experiences that address issues and concerns of the people of the Nashville region, and which thereby help improve the lives of those we serve. Join the conversation at facebook.com/nashvillepublictelevision, on Twitter @npt8 and on Instagram @nashvillepubtv.