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On the Tube: WPXI's 'Courage'

Friday, February 19, 1999

By Rob Owen. Post-Gazette TV Editor

Taking a break from NBC's Saturday night lineup, WPXI will present its annual Black History month retrospective.

This year's installment, "A Century of Courage," culls together segments from past documentaries for a look at the triumphs of African-Americans throughout the century.

Darieth Chisolm hosts the program, which airs tomorrow at 9 p.m. on WPXI and repeats Monday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. on PCNC.

Profiles of Pittsburghers highlight the hour-long broadcast, including Olympic medalist John Woodruff, labor activist Nate Smith, baseball player Josh Gibson and World War II pilot Charles Tate.

WPXI public affairs director Robin Beckham said she selected seven segments from programs that have aired during the past 10 years.

"It just makes me proud we made a concerted effort to do this,"she said.

Despite the fact this year's program is essentially a best-of clip show, Beckham said Channel 11 hasn't backed away from doing future original productions.

"We're very committed to keeping fresh ideas out there," she said.

The first story in the hour is the one with the most meaning to Beckham. She wrote and produced the 1996 segment on John Woodruff, which won several awards, including one from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Woodruff graduated from Connellsville High School and attended the 1936 Olympics where he won a gold medal running track as Adolf Hitler looked on, ruining Hitler's Aryan superiority theory. Woodruff returned to America with a seed from a German oak tree, which he planted at Connellsville High.

Because the special includes segments from years past, viewers will see former WPXI personalities, including John Christian, Loran Mann and Dave Clark.

"I think this has some of the elements of the things in television we need to go back to, like showing love," Beckham said. "People are sometimes afraid to show the beautiful things."

Tomorrow's episode of "The Pretender" that will be pre-empted will air Sunday at 11:35 p.m.

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