PBS Explores African-American Contributions to History and Society

An Impressive Array of New and Encore Programming Before and During Black History Month

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Throughout the year, PBS invites viewers to explore the vast contributions of African Americans. In honor and celebration of Black History Month, February 2010, PBS presents new and encore programs, beginning in January and continuing through February.

2010 brings a new primetime series hosted by Tavis Smiley. On Wednesday, January 27, TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS accompanies Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on diplomatic missions and goes behind the scenes at the State Department. AUSTIN CITY LIMITS and AMERICAN MASTERS take viewers onstage and backstage with performances and stories of groundbreaking musicians in new episodes, “Mos Def/K’naan” and “Sam Cooke: Crossing Over,” respectively.

On Thursday, February 11, 2010, PBS presents IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE “A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” a concert in the White House East Room. President and Mrs. Obama will host the event in honor of Black History Month. The evening will be taped live by WETA Washington, D.C. on February 10 and air on February 11 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings). The music special will include Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Seal, Smokey Robinson and the Blind Boys of Alabama, with a complete talent line-up announced in the coming weeks.

Acclaimed Harvard scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. investigates the ancestry of 11 renowned Americans, including poet Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and read the poem at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and writer Malcolm Gladwell, with FACES OF AMERICA, a new four-part series.

INDEPENDENT LENS brings race to the forefront with two new films in February. “Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness” explores the often overlooked legacy of Jewish anthropologist Melville Herskovits, whose ideas in the 40s and 50s challenged the accepted assumptions about race and culture. “Behind the Rainbow” unearths once-hidden realities of South Africa’s political obstacles on the path to democracy.

A third film, “Mine/Home,” is the poignant and powerful story of pet owners separated from their animals during Hurricane Katrina, and of the ensuing struggles to bring them home. A meditation on the essential bond between humans and animals, “Mine/Home” is an equally compelling story of race and class and the power of compassion in contemporary America.

Thousands of hours of PBS programming are available on the PBS Video Portal. In mid-January, the Video Portal will release a special collection for Black History Month 2010, featuring new and encore programming, at www.pbs.org/blackhistory.

Beyond broadcast, PBS Teachers® (pbsteachers.org) conducts a series of free monthly Webinars designed to help preK-12 educators learn new ways to integrate online instructional resources in the classroom and engage students in curriculum lessons. Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. will be the guest speaker for the upcoming PBS Teachers Webinar, “Exploring the FACES OF AMERICA.” The Webinar will be held February 23, 2010, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

In addition to the Webinar, PBS Teachers offers the Unsung Heroes in African American History and Civil Rights Movement in American Literature Activity Packs for educators to use in the classroom or to post on their classroom, school or favorite social networking Web sites. The activity packs are designed for multiple grade levels and contain links to African-American history-themed education resources and activities from PBS.

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