Caress Russell

Arizona PBS celebrates Black History Month

As we pay tribute to African American history and heritage this month, Arizona PBS would like to share reflections on the black experience from these members of our community:

  • Caress Russell, aka Lady Caress, performs “Bred for This.” She has spent more than 10 years impacting youth and adult audiences as both a poet and public speaker. Active in her community and many youth organizations, Russell has graced the stages at festivals, churches and special events throughout the United States.
  • David Hemphill, executive director of the Black Theatre Troupe
  • Retha Hill, journalist and director of the New Media Innovation Lab at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

You’ll also want to watch for these programs on air:

On Arizona PBS 8.1

Independent Lens “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code”
Monday, Feb. 3, at 9 p.m. | Watch online
In July 1995, a heat wave overtook Chicago: high humidity and a layer of heat-retaining pollution drove the heat index up to more than 126 degrees. City roads buckled, rails warped, electric grids failed, thousands became ill and people began to die — by the hundreds. This film tells the story of this heat wave, the most traumatic in U.S. history, in which 739 Chicago citizens died in a single week, most of them poor, elderly, and African American. Balancing serious and somber with her respectful, albeit ironic and signature quirky style, filmmaker Judith Helfand explores this drama that, when peeled away, reveals the less newsworthy but long-term crisis of pernicious poverty, economic, and social isolation and racism.

Finding Your Roots “Science Pioneers”
Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 9 p.m. | Watch online.
Episode features African-American nuclear physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT.

Finding Your Roots “Slave Trade”
Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. | Watch online
Episode features African-American actress S. Epatha Merkerson, African-American film director Ava Duvernay, and African-American musician Questlove, and how slavery impacted all of their families’ history.

The Fight: American Experience
Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 9 p.m. | Watch online.
Discover the story of the 1938 heavyweight bout between African-American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling, and how two men, in the shadow of war, became reluctant symbols of equality and supremacy, democracy and fascism.

Art in the 48
Thursday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. | Watch online.
Artist Carla Keaton draws on her family’s rich history to show how we all are connected. Her exhibition “The Sharecroppers and the Cotton Pickers of the Southwest” shows the same story through different eyes, the sharecroppers of slavery and the cotton pickers here in Arizona. She recalls seeing her father — a sharecropper — bone-weary and spent, climbing the stairs of their house late at night after a long day at work. That image stuck with her and fueled her creatively. Keaton’s work has been featured in art galleries across Arizona. She is a commissioned portrait artist, has illustrated two published children’s books and has created several murals across the Valley.

Independent Lens: Always in Season
Monday, Feb. 24, at 9 p.m.
Follow the tragedy of African-American teenager Lennon Lacy, who in August 2014, was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, North Carolina.  His suspicious death was ruled a suicide by law enforcement, but Lennon’s mother, Claudia, her family and many others believe Lennon was lynched.

Gennett Suite
Monday, Feb. 24, at 11:30 p.m.
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music associate professor Brent Wallarab conducts the Indiana University student jazz ensemble in an original composition, which pays tribute to the Jazz Age titans whose legendary early recordings were produced at a little studio in Richmond, Indiana called Gennett Records. The performance program features music inspired by artists including Louis Armstrong, King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, Bix Beiderbecke and Jelly Roll Morton.

American Masters “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”
Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m.
Discover the man behind the legend. With full access to the Miles Davis Estate, the film features never-before-seen footage, including studio outtakes from his recording sessions, rare photos and new interviews.


On Arizona PBS World 8.3

John Lewis: Get in the Way
Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m.
Follow the courageous journey of John Lewis, whose unwavering fight for justice spans the past 50 years, from his youth in the segregated South, through his leadership within the Civil Rights movement, to his current role as a powerful voice in Congress. He was the youngest speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. King delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech. And in March 1965, Lewis led the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, where Alabama State Troopers attacked peaceful protesters with billy clubs, bullwhips and tear gas. Their horrific actions were broadcast on nightly news reports into living rooms across America; eight months later, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. Once an activist pushing from the outside, Lewis, now 76 years old, has become a determined legislator making noise on the inside. Considered by many to be the conscience of Congress, with equal measures of modesty and forcefulness, Lewis strives to persuade D.C. powerbrokers to hear the voices of the unheard. Despite setbacks – and there have been many – John Lewis’ eyes remain on the prize.

Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story
Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m.
Nicknamed “Architect to the Stars,” African American architect Paul R. Williams had a life story that could have been dreamed up by a Hollywood screenwriter. From the early 1920s until his retirement 50 years later, Williams was one of the most successful architects in the country. His list of residential clients included Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyk, William Holden, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. And his name is associated with architectural icons like the Beverly Hills Hotel, the original MCA Headquarters Building and LAX Airport. But at the height of his career Paul Williams wasn’t always welcome in the restaurants and hotels he designed or the neighborhoods where he built homes, because of his race. Hollywood’s Architect will tell the story of how he used talent, determination and even charm to defy the odds and create a body of work that can be found from coast to coast.

The Long Shadow
Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m.
When a daughter of the South, director Frances Causey, set out to find causes for the continuing racial divisions in the United States, she discovers that the politics of slavery didn’t end after the Civil War. In an astonishingly candid look at the history of anti-black racism in the United States, “The Long Shadow” traces the imposition of white privilege and its ultimate manifestation: slavery.

Independent Lens “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities”
Monday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m.
“Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities” is a documentary and interactive project that explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played in American history, culture, and national identity. Today, over half of all African American professionals are graduates of HBCUs. More than 50% of the nation’s African American public school teachers and 70% of African American dentists earned degrees at HBCUs. The film brings to a broad national audience for the first time the story of HBCUs and the power of higher education to transform lives and advance civil rights and equality in the face of intolerance and injustice.

Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP
Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 6 p.m.
Incorporates rare archival film and extraordinary interviews to explore Marshall’s life in the years leading up to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, including his upbringing in Baltimore, his education at Howard University Law School (“the West Point of the civil rights movement”), his status as a rising star within the NAACP, his skill as an orator and storyteller, his relationship with his mentor Charles H. Houston, and his high-profile segregation cases involving voting, transportation, housing, labor and the military. This compelling biography, produced by the filmmaker behind Hubert H. Humphrey: The Art of the Possible (distributed through APT Exchange) unfolds through interviews with Justice Elena Kagan, Justice John Paul Stevens, lawyer and civil-rights activist Vernon Jordan, Marshall biographers Rawn James, Juan Williams and Larry S. Gibson and several law professors.

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