Black History Month 2021

In honor of Black History Month, NEPM presents programming on TV, Radio and Digital that explore the Black experience from multiple perspectives on history, music, current events, and more.

The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song
Watch Monday, Feb. 16 and Wednesday, Feb 17 at 9 p.m. on NEPM TV

An intimate four-hour series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song will explore the 400-year-old story of the black church in America, the changing nature of worship spaces, and the men and women who shepherded them from the pulpit, the choir loft, and church pews.

The Jazz Ambassadors
Watch Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. on NEPM TV

The Cold War and civil rights collide in this remarkable story of music, diplomacy and race. Beginning in 1955, when America asked its greatest jazz artists to travel the world as cultural ambassadors, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and their racially diverse band members faced a painful dilemma: How could they represent a country that still practiced Jim Crow segregation?

American Masters: Sammy Davis, Jr.
Watch Thursday, Feb. 4 at 9 p.m. on NEPM TV

The first major film documentary to examine Sammy Davis, Jr.'s vast talent and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th century America.

American Experience: Goin' Back To T-Town
Watch Monday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. on NEPM TV

The story of Greenwood, an extraordinary Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that prospered during the 1920s and 30s despite rampant and hostile segregation. Torn apart in 1921 by one of the worst racially-motivated massacres in the nation’s history, the neighborhood rose from the ashes.

American Masters: Maya Angelou
Watch Thursday, Feb 11 at 9 p.m. on NEPM TV
Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou led a prolific life. She inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.

Witness: Black History
Listen Sunday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. on NEPM 88.5
A special hour-long edition of Witness History from the BBC World Service, bringing together some incredible interviews looking at the African-American experience — NASA's pioneering black women, When Nelson Mandela went to Detroit, African Americans and the "Three Strikes Law", The last survivor of the transatlantic slave trade and Ann Lowe - African American Fashion Designer.

American Experience: Voice of Freedom
Watch Monday, Feb. 15 at 9 p.m. on NEPM TV

Hailed as a voice that “comes around once in a hundred years” by maestros in Europe and widely celebrated by both white and black audiences at home, Marian Anderson's fame hadn’t been enough to spare her from the indignities and outright violence of racism and segregation.

Finding Your Roots: Write My Name in the Book of Life
Watch Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. on NEPM TV

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

The Invention Of Race
Listen Sunday, Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. on NEPM 88.5

This history special traces the development of racial, and racist, ideas, from the ancient world — when "there was no notion of race," as historian Nell Irvin Painter puts it — up to the founding of the United States as, fundamentally, a nation of and for white people (despite the "all men are created equal" language of the Declaration of Independence). Relying on the work of Painter, National Book Award-winning historian Ibram Kendi, a recorded workshop presentation by the Racial Equity Institute, host and reporter John Biewen.

Independent Lens: Mr. Soul!
Watch Monday, Feb. 22 at 10 p.m. on NEPM TV

Premiering in 1968, SOUL! was the first nationally broadcast all-Black variety show on public television, merging artists from the margins with post-Civil Rights Black radical thought. Mr. SOUL! delves into this critical moment in television history, as well as the man who guided it, highlighting a turning point in representation whose impact continues to resonate to this day.

Selected Shorts: Celebrating Baldwin
Listen Sunday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. on NEPM 88.5

Guest host LeVar Burton presents a program celebrating the author he calls “potent and polemical.” Christopher Jackson reads an excerpt from Baldwin’s famous letter The Fire Next Time: in “My Dungeon Shook,” he addresses internalized racism. Next, Anthony Rapp performs an excerpt from Giovanni's Room, in which an expat comes to terms with his sexuality and loneliness in Paris. And Baldwin contemplates The Great Migration in his novel Go Tell It On The Mountain. We hear an excerpt performed by Charlayne Woodard.


NEPM’s Connecting Point Tells the Local Story
Celebrate Black History Month with a look at the people, stories and issues that shape the Black experience in western New England. From the devastating fire at the MLK Presbyterian Church in Springfield and local Black Lives Matter protests, to the history of the “Green Book,” Connecting Point provides a local perspective.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
This series chronicles the full sweep of African American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent right up to today when America remains a nation deeply divided by race.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Explore the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction, and revolutionary social change. The twelve years that composed the post-war Reconstruction era (1865-77) witnessed a seismic shift in the meaning and makeup of our democracy.

The Murder of Emmett Till
The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.

Driving While Black
Discover how the advent of the automobile brought new mobility and freedom for African Americans but also exposed them to discrimination and deadly violence, and how that history resonates today.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
In his four-hour series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. embarks on a deeply personal journey through the last fifty years of African American history. Joined by leading scholars, celebrities, and a dynamic cast of people who shaped these years, Gates travels from the victories of the civil rights movement up to today, asking profound questions about the state

The Central Park Five
The story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park in 1989. Directed and produced by Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns, the film chronicles the Central Park Jogger case, from the perspective of the five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice

Independent Lens: Always in Season
Always in Season follows the tragedy of African American teenager Lennon Lacy, who in August 2014, was found hanging from a swing set in North Carolina. His death was ruled a suicide, but Lennon’s mother and family believe he was lynched. The film chronicles her quest to learn the truth and takes a closer look at the lingering impact of more than a century of lynching African Americans.

John Lewis: Get in the Way
Follow the journey of civil rights hero, congressman, and human rights champion John Lewis. At the Selma March, Lewis came face-to-face with club-wielding troopers and exemplified non-violence.