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TV specials celebrate Black History Month

Thursday, February 01, 2001

By Rebecca Sodergren, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Black History Month on television includes profiles of famous African Americans, documentaries on slavery and other offerings.

Local stations have joined the effort. WTAE will air a program about noteworthy African-Americans on Feb. 18. WPXI will focus on African-American members of the military with "The Last of the Buffalo Soldiers" Feb. 26.

In addition to segments on prominent African-Americans on Monday nights (as noted in the listings below), WQED's "On Q Magazine" also will feature BVEV, a local center that assists black Vietnam-era veterans; Kuntu Repertory Theatre; New Horizon Theater; and others. The dates for those shows have yet to be determined.

Aside from the traditional black history programs on cable television, TV Land has created "Breakthroughs," an original vignette series based on shows, celebrities and moments that have contributed to African Americans' roles in television. The vignettes will air at varying times throughout the month.

Every Friday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., Nick at Nite will air episodes of "The Jeffersons," "Maude," "Julia" and other sitcoms that specifically deal with such issues as cultural diversity, racism and acceptance.

Court TV is recognizing black contributions to law with individual tributes sandwiched between its regular shows all month.

And the acclaimed 1970s miniseries "Roots" begins a nightly run at 9 p.m. Sunday on Odyssey.

Here are the Black History Month offerings sent to us from both local and cable stations. Watch the daily TV listings for additional programming.


"From Swastika to Jim Crow" (WQED/WQEX, 10:30 p.m.) -- Jewish intellectuals escaping from the Nazis found a refuge at traditionally black Southern universities.


"Rosa Parks: Mother of a Movement" (A&E, 7 a.m.) -- In 1955 a black woman refuses to move to the back of a bus, spurring the civil rights movement.

"The Johnson Tapes: Uncivil Liberties" (DSC, 9 a.m.) -- President Johnson pushes the Civil Rights Act; the FBI tries to break Martin Luther King Jr.

"The Heritage: The Panther Perspective" (BET, 8 p.m.) -- Former Black Panther Party official Kathleen Cleaver is host of a collection of documentaries and short films exploring the 1960s-born revolutionary movement. (Remaining installments will air at 8 p.m. each Friday this month.)


"America's Black Warriors" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- The story of African-Americans in the U.S. military during World War II. (Repeats at 6 a.m. Feb. 20.)

"Homes of Our Heritage: African-American Visionaries" (HGTV, 5 p.m.) -- Homes of such notable figures as Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.

"The Color of Friendship" (DIS, 7:30 p.m.) -- African-American Congressman Ron V. Dellums opened his home to a South-African exchange student in 1977 and got the unexpected -- a white Apartheid-supporting girl who learned and exchanged lessons about tolerance with the Dellums family.

"Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light" (WQED/WQEX, 8 p.m.) -- Profile of the stage, screen and television actor/director.

"Dancing in September" (HBO, 9 p.m.) -- Film about a writer (Nicole Ari Parker) who manages to sell a TV sitcom that honestly depicts black life, then finds her integrity tested by network demands.


"Black History 2000: Year in Review" (WCWB, 6 a.m.) -- Top national and international news stories last year from an African-American perspective, including the Amadou Diallo murder trial, the presidential election, the Olympics and Tiger Woods' triumphs.

"The African Burial Ground" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Part one, titled "The Search," in a four-part series that tells the story of lower Manhattan's African Burial Ground, recently unearthed in an archaeological dig. (Succeeding episodes air at 6 a.m. Feb. 11, 18 and 25.)

"History Center" (HIST, 10 a.m.) -- Highlight of Jim Horton's book, "Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America."

"Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey" (WQED/WQEX, 3 p.m.) -- Profile of the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Jubilee Singers: Sacrifice and Glory" (WQED/WQEX, 5 p.m.) -- Singers, mostly former slaves, from Fisk University in Nashville who performed to try to save their school in the decade following the Civil War.

"Bojangles" (SHO, 8 p.m.) --Gregory Hines stars as the legendary Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, a rare black solo performer in vaudeville and on Broadway who later starred in radio and film.

"Sounder" (TCM, 8 p.m.) -- Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson play sharecroppers in 1933 Louisiana, and Kevin Hooks plays a young son who travels with his pet hound.

"Roots" (ODSY, 9 p.m.) -- Rerun of the 1970s miniseries, including interviews with cast members Levar Burton and John Amos. (Remaining episodes will be shown at 9 p.m. each night through Feb. 9.)

"Selma, Lord, Selma" (DIS, 9 p.m.) -- In 1965 Alabama, an 11-year-old girl is touched by a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. and joins the famed march from Selma to Montgomery.

"Body and Soul" (TCM, midnight) -- In this 1925 movie, Paul Robeson plays both the Rev. Jenkins, an amoral con artist hiding out from the law, and his good-hearted twin.

"Zou Zou" (TCM, 2 a.m.) -- Josephine Baker plays a laundress who succeeds in show business.


"Frederick Douglass" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Profile of the abolitionist who escaped slavery in 1838, then became a writer and orator to fight for emancipation.

"History's Lost and Found" (HIST, 2 and 7 p.m.) -- Louis Armstrong's personal recordings.

"On Q" (WQED/WQEX, 7:30 p.m.) -- Interview segment on Dr. Stephen Thomas, director of the Center for Minority Health at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health.

"Modern Masters: African-American Artisans" (HGTV, 10 p.m.) -- Artists including woodcarver Charles Dickson of Los Angeles; clay artist David McDonald of Syracuse, N.Y.; and basket weaver Henrietta Snype of Charleston, S.C.


"Harlem Hellfighters" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- The story of the 369th Infantry Regiment, a Harlem-based New York National Guard unit during World War I.

"Journeys in Black" (BET, 8 p.m.) -- A look at the career of rap mogul Russell Simmons.


"Ships of Slaves: The Middle Passage" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Documentary about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, including the Amistad case.

"Autobiography of Malcolm X" (DSC, 9 a.m.) -- The civil-rights leader rises to power.

Next Thursday

"Nick News" (NIC, 6 a.m.) -- Biography of Martin Luther King Jr.; a 15-year-old boy discusses the Million Man March; hate-crime legislation. (Repeats at 6 a.m. Feb. 21).

"The Night Tulsa Burned" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- White mobs confronted black residents on June 1, 1921, and the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Okla., burned, leaving many dead and wounded.

"Goin' to Chicago" (WQED/WQEX, 10 p.m.) -- Millions of African-Americans created the largest internal migration in U.S. history by moving from the rural South to the cities of the North and West.

Feb. 9

"The Underground Railroad, Part 1" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Prominent figures who played roles in making the Underground Railroad run. (Part 2 airs at 6 a.m. Feb. 16.)

"Martin Luther King Jr.: The Man and the Dream" (A&E, 7 a.m.) -- Martin Luther King Jr.'s life goes from leader to martyr.

"WNBA/NBA Black History Month Special" (ESPN2, 1:30 a.m.).

Feb. 11

"The African Burial Ground" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Part two.

"Hallelujah!" (TCM, 10 p.m.) -- Daniel L. Haynes plays a Southern preacher and Nina Mae McKinley a dancer who tempts him in this 1929 film.

Feb. 12

"The 54th Massachusetts" (HIST, 8 a.m.) -- The Army's first black regiment to be assembled in the North after the Emancipation Proclamation.

"ON Q" (WQED/WQEX, 7:30 p.m.) -- Interview segment on Valerie McDonald, Pittsburgh city councilwoman.

Feb. 13

"Malcolm X: A Search for Identity" (A&E, 7 a.m.) -- Malcolm X's rise from prison to being leader of the Nation of Islam.

"Crisis in the Classroom" (HIST, 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) -- School desegregation, from Little Rock, Ark., in 1957, when the governor tried to prevent nine black children from entering a formerly white school, to the mid-1970s, when Boston experienced an anti-busing movement against African-Americans.

"Journeys in Black" (BET, 7:30 p.m.) -- A look at the career of hip-hop artist Master P.

Feb. 14

"John Brown's War" (HIST, 8 a.m.) -- The controversial crusader who led an 1859 anti-slavery raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Va.

"Black Filmmaker Showcase 2000" (SHO, 8 p.m.) -- Collection of short films by black filmmakers. (Repeats at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 25.)

"Bob Marley: Rebel Music" (WQED/WQEX, 9:30 p.m.) -- Profile of the well-known reggae artist.

Feb. 15

"Black Filmmaker Showcase 2000" (SHO, 9:30 p.m.) -- "Gilded Six Bits," short film.

"Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind" (WQED/WQEX, 10 p.m.) -- Profile of the leader of the largest African-American organization in history, the Universal Negro Improvement Fund.

Feb. 16

"The Underground Railroad" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Part 2.

"WNBA/NBA Black History Month Special" (ESPN2, 2 p.m., repeats at 12:30 a.m.).

"Tour of Duty" (TNT, 4 p.m.) -- Word of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination lowers black soldiers' morale.

Feb. 17

"The Jeffersons" (TVLAND, 6 a.m.) -- 48-hour marathon of the longest-running African-American sitcom to date.

"Shaka Zulu" (HIST, 10 a.m.) -- Five-part miniseries about the illegitimate son of a disowned African princess who united the tribes of Zululand into a powerful nation.

"Our Inspiration: The Story of Maggie Lena Walker" (WQED/WQEX, 8 p.m.) -- The daughter of former slaves, Walker was the first woman in the United States to head a local bank.

Feb. 18

"The African Burial Ground" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Part three.

"The Remarkable Journey" (WTAE, 2 p.m.) -- Profiles of Americans of diverse races and professions, who have excelled in the face of overwhelming odds, with host Kweisi Mfume, president and CEO of the NAACP.

"Black Filmmaker Showcase 2000" (SHO, 2:40 p.m.) -- "Special Day," short film.

"Tutu and Franklin: A Journey Toward Peace" (WQED/WQEX, 3 p.m.) -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Dr. John Hope Franklin join high schoolers on a trip to Goree Island, Senegal -- once a slave port -- to search for new approaches to racial reconciliation.

"Hopes on the Horizon" (WQED/WQEX, 5 p.m.) -- Documentary on Africans' struggle for democratic renewal in the 1990s, focusing on Benin, Rwanda, Morocco, Mozambique and South Africa.

"They Call Me Sirr" (SHO, 8 p.m.) -- Kente Scott and Michael Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile") star in a film chronicling the high school years of National Football League player Sirr Parker and his struggle to excel in sports while raising his younger brother alone.

"Cabin in the Sky" (TCM, 8 p.m.) -- The first MGM musical with an all-black cast, including Ethel Waters, Lena Horne and Louis Armstrong.

"Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided" (WQED/WQEX, 9 p.m.) -- Three-part documentary; remaining parts air at 9 p.m. Feb. 19 and 20.

"Black Filmmaker Showcase 2000" (SHO, 9:30 p.m.) -- "Room 302," short film.

"Show Boat" (TCM, 10 p.m.) -- Paul Robeson stars in this 1939 film.

Feb. 19

"Murder in Memphis: Unanswered Questions" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Was Martin Luther King Jr. killed by James Earl Ray, or was there a conspiracy behind the murder?

"On Q" (WQED/WQEX, 7:30 p.m.) -- Interview segment on the Rev. Leon Sullivan, founder and chairman of Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America.

"Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided" (WQED, 9 p.m.) -- Part two.

Feb. 20

"America's Black Warriors" (HIST, 6 a.m.) --African-Americans in the military (repeat).

"Intimate Portrait" (LIFE, 7 p.m.) -- Rosa Parks.

"Journeys in Black" (BET, 8 p.m.) -- A look at the career of gospel star CeCe Winans.

"Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided" (WQED/WQEX, 9 p.m.) -- Part three.

Feb. 21

"Nick News" (NIC, 6 a.m.) -- Biography of Martin Luther King Jr., etc. (repeat)

"Black Filmmaker Showcase 2000" (SHO, 9:30 p.m.) -- "The Blessing Way," short film.

Feb. 22

"Keepers of the Flame" (WQED/WQEX, 9 p.m.) -- Interviews with a writer, college professor and clergyman who have kept a meticulous account of life in Pittsburgh's black community.

Feb. 24

"The Port Chicago Mutiny" (HIST, 10 a.m.) -- Two ships blew up at the Port Chicago ammunition depot on July 17, 1944, and of the 300 killed, 202 were black.

"Crossing the Bridge" (HIST, 8 p.m.) -- Documentary on Bloody Sunday -- March 6, 1965 -- when Alabama state police beat and tear-gassed Civil Rights marchers.

"Boycott" (HBO, 8 p.m.) -- Film dramatizing the pivotal moment in civil rights history in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in a "whites only" section of a Montgomery, Ala., public bus.

"A Principled Man: The Rev. Leon Sullivan" (WQED/WQEX, 8 p.m.) -- Profile of the internationally known African humanitarian.

Feb. 25

"The African Burial Ground" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Part four.

"History Showcase" (HIST, 10 a.m.) -- Slavery and the Civil War are the topics of this episode.

"Black Filmmaker Showcase 2000" (SHO, 10:30 a.m.) -- Collection of short films. (repeat)

"The Defiant Ones" (TCM, 8 p.m.) -- Sidney Poitier plays a prisoner chained to a prejudiced white man (Tony Curtis) in this 1958 film.

Feb. 26

"The Black Cowboys" (HIST, 6 a.m.) -- Danny Glover hosts this examination of black cowboys and their role in the Old West.

"The Last of the Buffalo Soldiers: A Pittsburgh Homecoming" (WPXI, 7:30 p.m.) -- The story of African-American soldiers from the Civil War through World War II, including interviews with African-American World War II veterans who gathered for a reunion in Pittsburgh.

"On Q"(WQED/WQEX, 7:30 p.m.) -- Interview segment on Esther Bush, Urban League of Pittsburgh president and CEO.

Feb. 27

"Journeys in Black" (BET, 7:30 p.m.) -- A look at the career of the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"Greensboro: Clash with the Klan" (A&E, 9 p.m.) -- Ku Klux Klan members got away with murder in Greensboro, N.C., in 1979.

Feb. 28

"George Wallace and Black Power" (HIST, 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) -- Alabama Gov. George Wallace was one of Civil Rights' most adamant opponents.

"Biography" (A&E, 8 p.m.) -- "Civil Rights Heroes": Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Irene Morgan Kirkaldy, Mae Bertha Carter, Bill Russell, John Lewis. (Repeats at midnight.)

Post-Gazette Staff Writer Susan Banks contributed to this report.

Thursday, February 01, 2001

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