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EIGHT, ARIZONA PBS CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH NEW PROGRAMS AND A DIGITAL CAMPAIGN THAT UNITES MORE THAN A CENTURY OF HISTORY AND CULTURE

PBS Black Culture Connection website partners with Eunique Jones Gibson to showcase the making of the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign

PHOENIX -- (Jan. 30, 2014) In commemoration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans, Eight, Arizona PBS will feature various new and landmark shows and highlight online PBS content celebrating the African American experience – past, present and future. From an AMERICAN MASTERS profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, to an INDEPENDENT LENS documentary about the secret spy agency created to maintain segregation in 1950’s Mississippi, Black History Month on Eight and Eight WORLD will provide programs that educate, inform and inspire viewers to learn more about the rich culture of our nation.

The lineup begins on Eight WORLD (digital 8.3, Cox channel 88 or 7 on CenturyLink) Feb. 2 at 9 p.m. with part 1 of the watershed African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross series with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., examining the experiences that have shaped the African American people, and continues Feb. 3 at 11 p.m. on Eight HD with “American Promise,” a powerful coming-of-age documentary from POV that follows the journey of two young African-American males from kindergarten through high school graduation as they attend a prestigious Manhattan private school. Confronting challenges from typical childhood growing pains to cultural identification within a predominantly white environment, the young men and their parents push toward success and discover their own individuality in the process.   

“Our Black History Month lineup is featured on two of our channels this year, and covers a wide range of historical and contemporary stories that are inspiring and informative,” says Nancy Southgate, associate general manager of content for Eight, Arizona PBS.  “These films represent the work of diverse and independent producers, and delve deep into the stories of notable people and historical topics in a way that is uniquely PBS.”

In addition to on-air programs, the PBS Black Culture Connection (BCC), an extension of PBS.org featuring black films, stories and discussion across PBS, announces a digital partnership with the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign, which aims to educate and connect a new generation to heroes who paved the way. In an original blog series called “Behind the Lens,” hosted on PBS.org/bcc, PBS will go behind the camera of cultural architect and campaign photographer Eunique Jones Gibson, and her powerful images, to tell the rich story and history of African American icons through the eyes of our nation’s youth. During the month of February, the BCC will feature images from the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign including portraits of children inspired by Harriet Tubman, James Brown, Muhammad Ali and the Freedom Riders, along with a blog post by the photographer giving details of the subject, the shoot and the child/children who are pictured. “Behind the Lens” will be hosted on both the PBS Black Culture Connection and on becauseofthemwecan.com

“Eunique has created a special link to our past through a campaign that’s inspired and powered by our youth, our future,” said Nicole Eley-Carr, editor, PBS Black Culture Connection. “In many ways, she’s contemporizing Black History, and PBS is excited to be a space for this evolving dialogue that empowers young people by honoring achievers of yesterday and today.” 

“I am excited and honored to share a glimpse into the making of the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign with the PBS audience,” said Eunique Jones Gibson. “Through the ‘Behind the Lens’ blog series I hope to further the campaign’s mission of building the esteem of both children and adults, while helping them reflect on a living legacy of greatness.”

“Behind the Lens” will debut during Black History Month on PBS.org/bcc, alongside more than 30 films that will be available for streaming online throughout the month of February. The full Black History Month programming lineup is listed below and will also be available for online streaming on the BCC after premiere:

African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross—“The Black Atlantic”
Sunday, February 2, 2014, 9 p.m on Eight WORLD

Noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. recounts the full trajectory of African-American history in his groundbreaking six-part series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Written and presented by Professor Gates, the six-hour series explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds. Commencing with the origins of slavery in Africa, the series moves through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to the present — when America is led by a black president, yet remains a nation deeply divided by race.

AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange—Stories from Lakka Beach
Monday, February 3, 2014, 8 p.m on Eight WORLD

After the civil war in Sierra Leone, many visitors now stay away from the picturesque beach village of Lakka. Five villagers share their stories of life on the ocean, of living off the land, and of war, love and religion as they try to convince tourists to visit a nation still healing from a devastating war.


POV “American Promise”

Monday, February 3, 2014, 11 p.m on Eight HD

“American Promise” spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, New York, turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through Manhattan’s Dalton School, one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity. Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival


AMERICAN MASTERS “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth”

Friday, February 7, 2014, 8 p.m. on Eight HD

Most famous for her seminal novel The Color Purple, writer/activist Alice Walker celebrates her 70th birthday. Born February 9, 1944, into a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia, she came of age during the violent racism and seismic social changes of mid-20th-century America. Her mother, poverty and participation in the Civil Rights Movement were the formative influences on her consciousness, becoming the inherent themes in her writing. The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Walker continues to shine a light on global human rights issues. Her dramatic life is told with poetry and lyricism, and includes interviews with Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire, and Walker herself.


The Education of Harvey Gantt

Friday, February 7, 2014, 9 p.m. on Eight WORLD

Harvey Gantt was the first African American accepted to a white school in South Carolina. Follow his journey through education while exploring the sometimes forgotten story of desegregation. Also on Eight HD Feb 21 at 9:30pm.


One Night in March

Friday, February 7, 2014, 9:30 p.m. on Eight WORLD

The award-winning One Night in March recounts the 1962-1963 season and the events leading up to the historic college basketball game against integrated Loyola University which captured the national imagination, influenced a state and helped redefine a sport. Interviews, rare footage and archival photos transport viewers to a tumultuous time in history, just as the Civil Rights movement began gaining momentum throughout the South.


African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross—The Age of Slavery

Sunday, February 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m. on Eight WORLD

Episode two of African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross - “The Age of Slavery” demonstrates how African American lives changed drastically in the aftermath of the American Revolution.


AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange—Boys of Summer

Monday, February 10, 2014, 8:00 pm on Eight WORLD

AfroPop: “Boys of Summer” explores how a Little League baseball team from the Caribbean makes their way to the international spotlight.


INDEPENDENT LENS “Spies of Mississippi”

Monday, February 10, 2014, 11 p.m. on Eight HD
View the story of a secret spy agency formed during the 1950s and 60s by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy. Over a decade, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). They were granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret files, make arrests and compel testimony. The program tracks the commission’s hidden role in important chapters of the Civil Rights Movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the trial of Medgar Evers and the KKK murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.

The following is a sample of the more than 30 programs available for online streaming on the PBS Black Culture Connection in February:

  • The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • The March
  • Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
  • Independent Lens – Daisy Bates, Black Power Mixtape, Soul Food Junkies
  • Memories of the March
  • Bill T. Jones: A Good Man (American Masters)
  • Cab Calloway: Sketches (American Masters)
  • Dreams of Obama (Frontline)
  • Endgame: AIDS in Black America (Frontline)
  • Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • Freedom Riders (American Experience) 
  • Interrupters (Frontline)
  • Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A-Comin’ (American Masters)
  • Jesse Owens (American Experience)
  • “Roots” Special on Miniseries (Pioneers of TV)
  • Not in Our Town: Class Actions 
  • Slavery by Another Name
  • Too Important to Fail (Tavis Smiley)
  • Underground Railroad: The William Still Story
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll (American Masters)
  • James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (American Masters)
  • POV – Black Male Achievement documentary special series: Teaching Fatherhood, The Jazz Ticket, The Algebra Ceiling

Other series that routinely offer programming to commemorate Black History Month include FRONTLINE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, PBS NEWSHOUR, TAVIS SMILEY and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL.
Find more information and high-resolution images from these programs on PBS PressRoom.

About PBS Black Culture Connection
The PBS Black Culture Connection, featuring video from films, award-winning documentaries and popular series like AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, links the diverse national content found on PBS with local programs, interviews and discussions from PBS member stations and from around the web. In addition to aggregating more than 100 digital resources about black history and culture in one place within PBS.org, the PBS Black Culture Connection features thematic film collections, biographies and profiles, original productions made just for the web and local station spotlights. After exploring the site, users are encouraged to connect with others through online discussion and to challenge themselves with a suite of quizzes. The PBS Black Culture Connection is made available through partnerships with member stations, including WNET and WGBH, and public media partners like the National Black Programming Consortium. It will also feature the works of producers like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stanley Nelson and Tavis Smiley.

About Eight, Arizona PBS

Eight, Arizona PBS is a trusted community resource. For 50 years, the PBS station has focused on educating children, reporting in-depth on public affairs, fostering lifelong learning and celebrating arts and culture. Eight achieves its mission through the power of noncommercial television, the Internet, educational outreach and community-based initiatives. Its signal reaches 86 percent of the homes in Arizona. With more than 1 million viewers weekly, Eight consistently ranks among the most-viewed public television stations per capita in the country. For more information, visit azpbs.org.

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University.