PBS to Address Race and Racism in America

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PBS has announced that it will broadcast a series of films and new specials focused on race in America following the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the ensuing protests that erupted across the country.

In addition to re-broadcasting films focused on African American history by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Stanley Nelson, PBS will also curate a playlist of programs from Frontline, POV, Independent Lens and other iconic series that explore the impact of racism on Black Americans and the larger country.

“As a media system that serves every person in America, we stand with the Black community, and we stand against racism and hate,” said Paula Kerger, President & CEO of PBS. “In the coming days and weeks, we will use our national reach and community presence to deepen understanding, foster conversation and enable meaningful change. And we will continue to stand behind our courageous journalists, whose unwavering commitment to speak truth to power is essential to the strength of our democracy.”

PBS will rebroadcast The Talk – Race in America on Thursday, June 4 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The documentary, which first aired in 2017, tells six stories of struggle between people of color and law enforcement in America. It chronicles how families of color attempt to protect their children with “The Talk” – about what to do and how to react if they are stopped by police.

On Friday, June 5 at 9:00 p.m. ET, PBS and member stations will air a new special, ‘Race Matters: America in Crisis’. The one-hour program will be anchored by managing editor Judy Woodruff with contributions from senior national correspondent Amna Nawaz, correspondent Yamiche Alcindor and special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault. ‘Race Matters: America in Crisis’ will focus on the frustration pouring out onto American streets, outrage about police brutality, and America’s deep systemic racial disparities in the economy, education, criminal justice system and health care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will also include grassroots voices from around the country and roundtable conversations with thought leaders and other newsmakers.

Also on Friday, June 5, PBS will rebroadcast Frontline “Policing the Police,” in which writer and historian Jelani Cobb examines allegations of abuses within the Newark Police Department and the challenge of fixing its broken relationship with the community. “Policing the Police” will air at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Great Performances “Twilight: Los Angeles” encores Monday, June 8 at 10:00 p.m. ET. Anna Deavere Smith’s powerful one-woman theater piece gives a riveting account of the violent aftermath of the 1992 Rodney King verdict and the lasting impact of the Los Angeles riots on America’s conscience. Award-winning director Marc Levin weaves Smith’s stage performance with news footage and interviews to create a portrait of rage, sorrow, loss and battered hope.

America in Black and Blue 2020, which broadcasts on PBS stations Monday, June 15 at 9:00 p.m. ET, will report from across the country, and include interviews with key leaders and participants in the struggle for racial justice, accountability and equity, as well as voices from law enforcement. As the latest crisis of police violence on black citizens – and outraged protests and ensuing violence – engulf the nation, this PBS special will bring context and insight. It will update reporting from the original America in Black and Blue, which first aired in 2016, as well as The Talk – Race in America. Correspondents will report from Minneapolis, Georgia, New York and elsewhere, and interviews from PBS Newshour Weekend, Amanpour and Company, and other PBS national and local programming will be included. More details are forthcoming.

PBS and member stations will this week begin rebroadcasting and/or streaming a full slate of films about the history of injustices within the African American community. Films from Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. include THE AFRICAN AMERICANS: MANY RIVERS TO CROSS, a chronicle of African American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent through more than four centuries of remarkable events; RECONSTRUCTION: AMERICA AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, a four-part series that explores the transformative years when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss and African Americans forged a new, more equal place in American social and political life, only to face the backlash of segregation and institutionalized disempowerment whose legacy persists today; and BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE, a detailed exploration of how the civil rights movement impacted the country, including successes and failures related to political and economic equality.

PBS will also provide Stanley Nelson’s award-winning Independent Lens film THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION, a riveting look at an earlier era of conflict and how the Black Panthers provided community services while advocating for more radical national change.

All films will also be available for streaming on station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. PBS station members will be available to view all episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).

In addition to the broadcasts, films from Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Stanley Nelson will be included as part of a special curated collection streaming free on PBS.org. The filmmakers will offer their insights into the events currently gripping the country and historical origins for greater context. The programs below will also be included as part of the curated collection, with titles provided in association with Black Public Media.