February TV: Celebrating Black History Month

January 31, 2015

[Written by Shavonne Jeffries, Bermuda CableVision]

2015 marks the 100-year anniversary of The Association for the Study of African American Life and History [ASALH], the organisation at the origin of the yearly commemoration of black history. With this milestone, the ASALH has chosen “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture” as the 2015 National Black History theme.

Several top TV networks are offering a variety ways to explore this theme during the month of February. Leading the way is PBS, which will offer special new episodes of some of their most popular shows, along with premieres of new shows and documentaries. Following their broadcast, all of these shows will stream online on the PBS Black Culture Connection at pbs.org/bcc. Be sure to check out this destination where you can explore black history and culture around the world through PBS’s award-winning programmes, special online events, chats and more.

PBS Shows

[for the full schedule visit pbs.org, as some shows will re-air]

“Antiques Roadshow”

Throughout February, this popular PBS show will premiere a series of episodes called “Celebrating Black Americana,” which will highlight a number of rare items brought in by participants, including an 1821 citizenship certificate for a free man of colour, and a book about African-American beauty written by entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, who became the first American female millionaire.

“Genealogy Roadshow”

In this series, professional genealogists delve into history and science to reveal family secrets, in this case for New Orleans families wishing to explore their links to the Civil War and connections to the famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.

Genealogy Roadshow

“Independent Lens”

This award-winning series will unveil two new documentaries: “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” – [Monday, February 16 at 11pm.] a retrospective of pioneering African-American photographers who have recorded the stories and aspirations of generations, from slavery to the present; and “American Denial” [Monday, February 23 at 11pm] which uses the story of Gunnar Myrdal’s 1944 investigation of Jim Crow racism as a catalyst for exploring the dangers of unconscious biases and how they impact the ideals of liberty, equality and justice.

Official “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” trailer:

“American Masters”

Tune in on Friday, February 20 at 10pm for the premiere of “August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand,” which examines the legacy of the man who has been called America’s Shakespeare, in honour of the 10th anniversary of his death. The show will feature theatre luminaries such as James Earl Jones; Viola Davis; Phylicia Rashad; Laurence Fishburne; Charles Dutton and others who will share their stories of bringing Wilson’s unique voice to the stage.

BET is also featuring a number of new shows and specials in February:

“Being Mary Jane”

The hit series “Being Mary Jane” will debut 12 new episodes starting Tuesday, February 3, at 11pm. Starring Gabrielle Union, the series is the number one original drama show among all cable networks for adults aged 18-49. This season finds Mary Jane once again juggling family drama, bold career choices and a new relationship. Union is joined by actors Richard Roundtree and Margaret Avery and a supporting cast that includes Lisa Vidal; Richard Brooks; Raven Goodwin and B.J. Britt.

Official “Being Mary Jane” Trailer:

“The Book of Negroes”

“The Book of Negroes”, BET’s first-ever event miniseries, will launch on February 16, at 9pm and continue for the next two consecutive nights in two-hour installments. This highly anticipated, six-part historical drama is based on Lawrence Hill’s award-winning novel, an Oprah Winfrey pick known in the United States as Someone Knows My Name. “The Book of Negroes” depicts the extraordinary life of Aminata Diallo [Aunjanue Ellis] – an African woman who was kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa and subsequently enslaved in South Carolina.

She experiences the American Revolution in New York, hides out in isolation in Nova Scotia and survives the jungles of Sierra Leone before ultimately gaining her freedom in England at the dawn of the 19th century. The cast also inclues Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr.; Oscar and Emmy winner Louis Gossett Jr.; Lyriq Bent; Oscar nominee Jane Alexander; Ben Chaplin and Allan Hawco.

Official “The Book of Negroes” Trailer:

“The BET Honors” 2015 – premieres Monday, February 23, at 10pm

Hosted by actor and comedien Wayne Brady, this live event completes a star-studded month of programming for BET. The annual show is dedicated to celebrating black excellence, and this year will recognise the lives and achievements of five African Americans: Kanye West; Phylicia Rashad; Usher Raymond; Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and John W. Thompson.

Have a great month, viewers, and we will see you again next month with more picks for March.

- Shavonne Jeffries

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