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Black History Month — What We’re Watching

February 3, 2016
In honor of Black History Month, KCTS 9 is proud to present a number of compelling new programs, along with some classic favorites, that we know viewers will enjoy. These programs will immerse audience members in the stories of people, places and moments that forever changed society.

See what is airing this month on KCTS 9:

Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange airs Wednesdays at 11:00 p.m. (NEW)
Throughout February, this program will highlight independent documentaries and short films about life, art and culture from the contemporary African diaspora. Don’t miss Days of Hope (2/3), PAN! Our Music Odyssey (2/17) and First Fridays (2/24).
Independent Lens: A Ballerina’s Tale, Monday, Feb. 8, at 10:00 p.m. (NEW)
Few dancers make it to the highest level of classical ballet, and of that already small number, only a fraction are black women. Misty Copeland pulled herself up the ladder at American Ballet Theatre (ABT), from its corps de ballet to soloist, becoming the first African-American female principal dancer with ABT in 2015. 

American Masters: Sister Rosetta Tharpe airs Friday, Feb. 12, at 11:00 p.m. (Repeat) 
Discover the life, music and influence of African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe from writer, producer and director Mick Csaky. During the 1940s-60s, Tharpe introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into the secular world of rock ’n’ roll, inspiring some of its greatest stars, including Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.
American Masters: B.B. King – The Life of Riley premieres Monday, Feb. 15, at 9:00 p.m.  (NEW)
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: Whitney Young’s Fights for Civil Rights airs Monday, Feb. 15, at 10:00 p.m.  (Repeat)
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.
Vel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams premieres Monday, Feb. 15, at 11:00 p.m. (NEW)
Discover the story of Wisconsin’s Vel Phillips — the nation’s first African-American, and woman, elected to executive office in state government — and one of the pioneers of the civil rights era. Emmy-winner S. Epatha Merkerson narrates.
Independent Lens: The Black Panthers premieres Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 9:00 p.m. (NEW)
A new revolutionary culture emerged in the turbulent 1960s, and the Black Panther Party was at the vanguard. Weaving together rare footage with voices of the diverse group of people who were there, director Stanley Nelson tells the story of a pivotal movement in American history that feels timely all over again. 
Freedom Riders: American Experience airs Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 11:00 p.m. (Repeat) 
In 1961, segregation seemed to have an overwhelming grip on American society. Many states violently enforced the policy, while the federal government, under the Kennedy administration, remained indifferent, preoccupied with matters abroad. That is, until an integrated band of college students — many of whom were the first in their families to attend a university — decided, en masse, to risk everything and buy a ticket on a Greyhound bus bound for the deep South. They called themselves the Freedom Riders, and they managed to bring the president and the entire American public face-to-face with the challenge of correcting civil rights inequities that plagued the nation.
Bridge the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race premieres Monday, Feb. 22, at 9:00 p.m. (NEW)
Thirty-five years before the election of President Obama, the possibility of bridging racial barriers in politics was put to the test with Tom Bradley’s 1973 election as mayor of Los Angeles. He became the first African-American mayor of a major U.S. city with a white majority. Bradley created a coalition to unite a divided city, bringing inclusion and access, and set the foundation for future minority candidates nationwide. 
Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House premieres Friday, Feb. 26, at 10:00 p.m.  (NEW)
Hear interpretations of the music of Ray Charles, using his own big-band musical arrangements, by renowned as well as up-and-coming artists. The performance, a White House partnership with the Smithsonian, airs from the East Room.
American Masters: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock n’ Roll premieres Monday, Feb. 29, at 9:00 p.m. (NEW)
Discover how Fats Domino’s brand of New Orleans rhythm and blues became rock ’n’ 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.
Independent Lens: Wilhelmina’s War premieres Monday, Feb. 29, at 10:00 p.m.  (NEW)
A Southern grandmother struggles to help her family through the scourge of HIV, but may be unable to save those she loves. AIDS is one of the leading causes of death for black women in the rural South, where living with HIV is a grim reality.

For the most accurate and most up to date listings, visit KCTS 9's TV Schedule.