THIRTEEN spotlights the pioneers who have enriched the fabric of American history and culture with Black History Month specials airing in February (and January, too!). See our premieres, encores of past great programs, and content that is now streaming only. Be sure to check our Schedule for repeats, including early morning/late night hours.
Here are Black History Month premieres in order of broadcast date. All stream online and OTT apps after broadcast.
Independent Lens: I Am Not Your Negro
January 15 at 9pm; stream now through January 30 only
The Oscar-nominated I Am Not Your Negro envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a radical narration about race in America, using the writer’s original words, as read by actor Samuel L. Jackson. The film draws upon Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to examine race in America. Directed by Raoul Peck.
American Masters: Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart
Friday, January 19 at 9pm; stream now
Explore the inner life and works of the activist, playwright and author of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry. The first in-depth documentary on Hansberry is narrated by actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson and features the voice of Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as Hansberry.
Great Performances – Nas Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop
February 2 at 9pm
Two decades after the album’s critically acclaimed release, rapper and producer Nas teamed up with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, to stage a symphonic rendition of Illmatic, one of the most revered albums in hip-hop history.
Independent Lens: Winnie
February 5, 10pm
Pioneers: Reginald F. Lewis and the Making of a Billion Dollar Empire
February 18 at 7:30pm (or stream)
Discover the life and legacy of business pioneer, philanthropist and titan Reginald F. Lewis. Lewis rose to prominence as a lawyer, financier and leader of TLC Beatrice International. Lewis was the first African American ever to close an overseas billion dollar leveraged buyout deal. He acquired an unprecedented global conglomerate, and paved the way for future entrepreneurs and black leaders. The 30-minute documentary is the premiere episode of the WLIW series Pioneers; learn more about Lewis.
Independent Lens – Tell them We are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges & Universities
February 19 at 9pm
In this documentary spanning 170 years of American history, filmmaker Stanley Nelson explores the pivotal role historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)have played in the ascent of African-Americans and their families – from slavery to the present day. The film also examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture, and national identity.
These programs will re-air in February and some can be streamed by members of PBS stations through the benefit Passport.
Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement
February 5, 9pm
In 1915, Boston-based African American newspaper editor and activist William M. Trotter waged a battle against D.W. Griffith’s technically groundbreaking but notoriously Ku Klux Klan-friendly The Birth of a Nation, unleashing a fight that still rages today about race relations, media representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood. Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement captures the backdrop to this prescient clash, featuring interviews with Spike Lee, Reginald Hudlin, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and others.
American Masters: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
February 16 at 9pm (THIRTEEN members can stream now)
Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” Dr. Maya Angelou led a prolific life. She inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries. Best known for her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.
American Masters: Althea
February 26 at 9pm (THIRTEEN members can stream now)
This is the story of Althea Gibson (1927-2003), a truant from the rough streets of Harlem, who emerged as the unlikely queen of the highly segregated tennis world in the 1950s. She was the first African American to play and win at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals (precursor of the U.S. Open) — a decade before Arthur Ashe. Interviewees include Wimbledon champion Dick Savitt and Billie Jean King.
Streaming Online and OTT Apps
Watch on Thirteen.org or the THIRTEEN Explore apps for Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV.
The Talk – Race in America
In homes and communities across America, a conversation is taking place between parents of color and their children — especially sons — about how to behave if they are ever stopped by the police. “The Talk,” as it is called, has become increasingly necessary in the wake of recent tragic events between people of color and law enforcement – such as the fatal shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, and the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York. This critical conversation – and a larger, equally timely one about the ever-widening gap between majority-minority populations in the United States – are the focus of The Talk – Race in America, a new documentary.
Directed by Sam Pollard (American Masters: August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand), the two-hour film presents six personal stories from across the country to illustrate the issue from multiple perspectives: the parent, the child, the police, and the community.
Film Recommendations: Director Sam Pollard explains and tells the stories behind his must-see films for Black History Month.
And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK
Watch the two-part episode and clips now.
In this four-hour series from 2016, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. embarks on a deeply personal journey through the last fifty years of African American history.Joined by leading scholars, celebrities, and a dynamic cast of people who shaped these years, Gates travels from the victories of the civil rights movement up to today, asking profound questions about the state of black America—and our nation as a whole.
THIRTEEN Specials from the Archives
THIRTEEN has gone back to its archives to digitize its excellent programs broadcast from the 1960s and 1970s (long before the internet and streaming video!), making them available to today’s audiences, including those who watched the original broadcasts! Members of THIRTEEN can stream these programs through the benefit THIRTEEN Passport.
Take This Hammer
THIRTEEN members can stream now.
Author and activist James Baldwin meets with members of the local African-American community in San Francisco in the spring of 1963. He is escorted by Youth For Service’s Executive Director Orville Luster and is intent on discovering “the real situation of Negroes in the city, as opposed to the image San Francisco would like to present.”
The Dynamics of Desegregation
THIRTEEN members can stream now.
This 15-part THIRTEEN series from 1962 and 1963 was an “intensive study of race relations in the United States.” Harvard psychology professor Thomas F. Pettigrew hosted the series. It looks at the historical, political, psychological, personal and cultural aspects of segregation, with a particular emphasis on the South. In Episode 15: With Some Deliberate Speed, Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. Pettigrew discuss five stages of desegregation since the Supreme Court decision of 1954.
See thirteen.org/blackhistorymonth for previews, full episodes, and THIRTEEN’s digitized archival content from the 1960s and 1970s, and more.