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Arizona PBS celebrates Black History Month on-air, online

Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Independent Lens' "Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution" is one of many documentaries and profiles featured on-air and online on Arizona PBS in honor of Black History Month 2016.

January 29, 2016

Arizona PBS honors Black History Month with a collection of new commemorative programs and digital content highlighting the impact African-Americans have made on U.S. history, beginning Feb. 1.

As part of its yearlong commitment to diverse programming, Arizona PBS presents a monthlong lineup of programs in February emphasizing the struggles, victories and contributions African-Americans have made to modern culture, and the inspiring evolution of African-American society, through stirring documentaries and in-depth explorations of the lives and legacies of celebrated African-American leaders.

Highlights of this year’s programming include “Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” which tells the story behind a key component of the revolutionary culture within the civil rights movement, and “B.B. King: The Life of Riley,” which celebrates the enduring legacy of the late musician and the lasting effects his work has had on the music scene.

“This year’s Black History Month lineup features a rich collection of programs that emphasize the many ways African-Americans have helped shape modern American culture,” said Nancy Southgate, associate general manager of content at Arizona PBS. “We’re pleased to shine a spotlight on these individuals and organizations whose inspiring and enlightening stories created such a meaningful impact on society.”

The Black History Month programming lineup on Arizona PBS includes:

Independent Lens | A Ballerina’s Tale (new)
11:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8

Misty Copeland made history by becoming the first African-American principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, considered the pinnacle of ballet in the U.S. This documentary provides an intimate look at this groundbreaking artist as she shatters barriers and transcends her art.

American Masters | B.B. King: The Life of Riley (new)
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12

Explore B.B. King’s challenging life and career through candid interviews with the “King of the Blues,” filmed shortly before his death, and fellow music stars, including Bono, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, John Mayer and Ringo Starr.

Independent Lens | The Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights
11:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15

Whitney Young was one of the most powerful, controversial and largely forgotten leaders of the civil rights movement, who took the fight directly to the powerful white elite, gaining allies in business and government, including three presidents.

Independent Lens | Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (new)
8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16

Revisit the turbulent 1960s, when a revolutionary culture emerged with the Black Panther Party at its vanguard. Stanley Nelson tells the vibrant story of a pivotal movement that feels timely all over again.

In Performance at the White House | The Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles (new)
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26

In an all-star tribute, the Smithsonian pays tribute to the life and career of beloved musician Ray Charles live from the White House.

American Masters | Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll (new)
9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26

Discover how Fats Domino’s brand of New Orleans rhythm and blues became rock and roll. As popular in the 1950s as Elvis Presley, Domino suffered degradations in the pre-civil-rights South and aided integration through his influential music.

The Lost Years of Zora Neale Hurston 
11:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19

Explore the life, work and philosophies of Zora Neale Hurston, a celebrated figure of the Harlem Renaissance who is remembered for her 1937 masterwork, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” This special concentrates on her very productive, but often overlooked, final decade. Interviews with Hurston experts and colleagues, letters from Hurston, and archival photographs piece together this fascinating chapter in the life of an American literary icon.

On Arizona PBS World 8.3:

Eyes on the Prize: World Channel Special “Ain’t Scared of Your Jails”
8 a.m. Monday, Feb. 1 and 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2

This series tells the definitive story of the civil rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement. Winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Award, and a Television Critics Association Award, it is the most critically acclaimed documentary on civil rights in America. 

Independent Lens | American Denial
11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 1 and  6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2

Follow the story of Swedish researcher Gunnar Myrdal whose landmark 1944 study, “An American Dilemma,” probed deep into the racial psyche of the U.S. The film weaves a narrative that exposes some of the potential underlying causes of racial biases still rooted in America’s systems and institutions today.

First Peoples | Africa 
9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4 and 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5

Examine research that suggests we humans are a patchwork species of hybrids. Around 200,000 years ago, a new species, Homo sapiens, appeared on the African landscape. DNA from a 19th-century African-American slave is forcing geneticists to re-think the origins of our species. The theory is that our ancestors met, mated and hybridized with other human types in Africa — creating ever greater diversity within our species.

Ghosts of Amistad
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5

This documentary explores the impact of the Amistad mutiny and the repatriation of Africans to their homes in Sierra Leone. Renowned Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. calls the film “of great interest to any student of slavery and the slave trade.”

American Masters | August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand
8 pm. Saturday, Feb. 6

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Wilson’s birth, the 10th anniversary of his death and Black History Month, Arizona PBS offers unprecedented access to Wilson’s theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews and new dramatic readings ofhis seminal 10-play cycle chronicling a century of African-American life.

AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange
8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8

Hear the enlightening story of Tchinda, a woman from a small Cape Verdean island off the west coast of Africa, whose life changed forever when she came out as transgender in her town’s local newspaper. Explore her struggles and triumphs as she navigates discrimination and finds acceptance.

The Black Kung Fu Experience 
10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10

Meet kung fu’s black pioneers who helped bridge the gap between African-American and Asian cultures and gave birth to the rise of black kung fu artists. Discover how these pioneers broke down racial barriers and became respected masters in a subculture primarily dominated by Chinese and white men.

Independent Lens |  The Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights
4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18

Whitney Young was one of the most powerful, controversial and largely forgotten leaders of the civil rights movement, who took the fight directly to the powerful white elite, gaining allies in business and government, including three presidents.

In Their Own Words | Muhammad Ali
9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19

Watch the highlights of boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s life and career, from his boyhood in Louisville, Kentucky to his stunning upset of Sonny Liston, his exile from boxing for refusing induction into the U.S. Army to his epic, triumphant comeback.

Additional programming information and airtimes can be found on the Arizona PBS online schedule at

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 Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights (Independent Lens)
• Spies of Mississippi (Independent Lens)
• The Trials of Muhammad Ali (Independent Lens)
• American Promise (POV)
• Underground Railroad: The William Still Story
• The March
• Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
• Daisy Bates, Black Power Mixtape, Soul Food Junkies (Independent Lens)
• 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 (Pioneers of Television “Miniseries”)
• Not in Our Town: Class Actions
• Slavery by Another Name
• Too Important to Fail (Tavis Smiley)
• Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll (American Masters)
• Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth (American Masters)
• Black Male Achievement documentary special series: Teaching Fatherhood, The Jazz Ticket, The Algebra Ceiling (POV)

Other series offering programming to commemorate Black History Month include “PBS NewsHour,” “Tavis Smiley” and “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.”

Arizona PBS also invites educators, parents and students to visit the PBS LearningMedia website, which offers a range of curriculum-targeted resources that support lessons on black history and spotlight the leaders, thinkers and innovators who helped shape our nation’s history. Searchable by standard and keyword, PBS LearningMedia helps teachers to promote inquiry in their classrooms and strengthen students’ personal connection to black history and culture through discussion questions, worksheets, videos and digitized primary sources.

For more information on PBS LearningMedia, including how to integrate these resources in your school, contact Kimberly Flack at, 602-496-3764 or visit

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