Celebrate African-American History Month with WPT!

February 1, 2018 Susannah Brooks Leave a Comment

A female college graduate smiles in a still from "Tell Them We Are Rising" Any day is a great day to recognize the many contributions that African-Americans have made to American history and culture. But February offers special opportunities to celebrate  and recognize African-Americans, both famous and not-so-famous, who have made a difference.

Read on for a selection of upcoming programs airing on WPT – and don’t forget our many offerings available anytime online.


Filmmaker Stanley NelsonDocumentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2002 for “synthesizing biography, history, and culture in signature portrayals of the African American experience.” Thanks to his long affiliation with both Independent Lens and American Experience, viewers continue to have many opportunities to see history through Nelson’s eyes.

Watch this episode of WPT’s own Director’s Cut to hear Nelson discuss his Independent Lens film The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. (More Black Panthers clips available here.)

In 2011, Nelson discussed his American Experience film Freedom Riders on a Thirteen panel in New York, alongside four veteran Freedom Riders themselves. (Watch an extensive library of clips from Freedom Riders here, along with clips from Nelson’s Freedom Summer, another excellent episode of American Experience.)

Join us! Indie Lens Pop-Up screening

Madison: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8
Madison Central Library, Room 302
Free and open to all

Film: Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities 

Watch the trailer

Nelson’s latest documentary explores the pivotal role that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played in shaping American history, culture and national identity. Stay after the film for a community panel discussion!

Can’t join us in person? Watch on WPT 8 p.m. Monday, Feb 19.


Fatima and Thelma embrace and reunite in We'll Meet Again's episode "Freedom Summer"We’ll Meet Again
New! Freedom Summer
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20
Join Ann Curry for the dramatic reunions of people who lost touch after the civil rights movement. Fatima Cortez-Todd hopes to thank Thelma Caulfield for her courage in the face of racism, and Sherie Labedis searches for the friend who inspired her commitment to social justice.

University Place
Lectures available for viewing anytime online include:

More from the archives: 

  • See clips from POV‘s Homegoings that capture the traditions of African-American funerals.
  • Watch Black America Since MLK: And Still I RisePart 1, Part 2 – with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., exploring the tremendous gains and persistent challenges of the past five decades.
    Note: Full episodes are available online for Passport subscribers only. Learn more about Passport.
  • Follow the story of Althea Gibson’s triumphs in the tennis world on American Masters. (Full episode is Passport only; see more clips here.)


Lorraine Hansberry poses with her typewriterAmerican Masters
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart
11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 4 | Watch online now
Explore the life and work of the A Raisin in the Sun playwright and activist who played a significant role in the civil rights movement. LaTanya Richardson Jackson narrates, with Anika Noni Rose as the voice of Lorraine Hansberry. Watch more clips here.

American Masters
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18 | Watch online now
Journey through the prolific life of the author/activist who inspired generations with lyrical, modern African-American thought. Features new interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Common, Bill and Hillary Clinton and others.
Note: Full episode available online for Passport subscribers only. Learn more about Passport.

Independent Lens
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
10:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9
Discover the life of an outside-the-box artist whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. This portrait reveals the critical events, passions, experiences and challenges that shaped the life of John Coltrane and his revolutionary sounds.

Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band
11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 25
From child prodigy and “Boogie-Woogie Queen” to groundbreaking composer and mentor to some of jazz’s greatest musicians, Williams seemed to defy expectations wherever she went. Discover this non-conforming creative genius through her own words, voiced by Alfre Woodard.

Watch a University Place lecture on Williams’ legacy  by musicology professor Tammy Kernodle.

More from the archives: 


Vel Phillips posesVel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams
12 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25 | Watch online now
This original production from WPT introduces the story of civil rights activist Vel Phillips, the first African-American woman elected Wisconsin Secretary of State. Discover a wealth of additional material here.

More from the archives:

16 for ’16: The Contenders profiles three trailblazing presidential candidates.
Note: Full episodes are available online for Passport subscribers only. Learn more about Passport.

The Straight Talkers: Shirley Chisholm (with John McCain)
Shirley Chisholm Snubbed by Black Political Convention
Shirley Chisholm Tackles Social Issues of Her Time

The Visionaries: Jesse Jackson (with Gary Hart)
Jesse Jackson’s influence on the Democratic Party

The power of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 convention speech

The Master Strategists: Barack Obama (with George W. Bush)
Experts discuss the strategy Obama used to his advantage
Obama’s ups and downs in Iowa and New Hampshire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *