Race in America: WORLD CHANNEL & PBS Launch Doc Series

Freedom Summer Graphic (World Channel)

WORLD Channel, a national public media broadcast, online and social media platform with news and documentaries humanizing complex issues from across the globe, is presenting Race in America a series of iconic documentaries and events exploring historical and cultural stories about race and civil rights in America.

Beginning in October 2020, WORLD Channel, in partnership with PBS, will broadcast a series of documentaries that examine the civil rights movement in America, reconciling the history that led to the nation’s current racial reckoning. From films such as AMERICAN EXPERIENCE’s The Murder of Emmett Till and AMERICAN MASTERS’ Miles Davis: The Birth of Cool to Driving While Black, the films chronicle the history of Black Americans as well as the cultural and political forces which have shaped today’s world.  The films also will be available for streaming at worldchannel.org.

“Public media has always been dedicated to sharing the stories of the people who shaped our world. That has provided an incredibly rich archive of stories about Black Americans,” said Chris Hastings, executive producer at WORLD Channel at GBH in Boston. “At WORLD Channel, we want to bring these films back, to share these stories with new audiences across the country, especially at a time when we need individuals to embrace the differences that make us one country.”

Race in America films will air nationwide on Saturday nights at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT from October through March 2021. The featured documentaries will include:

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE:  The Murder of Emmett Till
First aired in January 2003, The Murder of Emmett Till takes viewers back 65 years to August 1955, when a Black 14-year-old whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world and was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement. Streaming now at worldchannel.org >.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE:  Freedom Riders
From May 2011, Freedom Riders is the powerful, harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 Black and white Americans risked their lives for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws in order to test and challenge a segregated interstate travel system, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism. Streaming now at worldchannel.org.

Driving While Black: Race, Space and Place in America
This 2020 feature-length documentary explores the role of the automobile in the lives of African Americans in the early twentieth century. The film chronicles a crucial and transformative period in American racial, cultural and social history, drawing on a rich archive of material from the period — including photographs, advertisements, road signs, maps, letters and legal records — along with riveting oral histories and the on-camera insights of scholars, writers, musicians, artists, religious leaders and ordinary American travelers. Airs October 17, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE:  Freedom Summer
The 2014 film Freedom Summer tells the story of the summer of 1964 in Mississippi where less than seven percent of African Americans were registered to vote and the segregationist white establishment was prepared to use any means necessary to keep them away from the polls and out of elected office. For ten weeks that summer, white students from the North joined activists on the ground for a massive effort that would do what had been impossible so far: force the  media and the country to take notice of the  shocking violence and massive injustice taking place in Mississippi. Airs October 24, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

John Lewis – Get in the Way: The Journey of John Lewis
The first major documentary biography of John Lewis, Get in the Way is a riveting, highly personalized narrative of an epic chapter in U.S. history. The film follows the journey of the civil rights hero, congressman, and human rights champion. From his role as one of the original Freedom Riders to his position as a U.S. Congressman, Lewis stood up to injustice wherever he found it. Airs October 31, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross
Noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., recounts the full trajectory of African-American history in this groundbreaking six-part series that explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds. Commencing with the origins of slavery in Africa, the series moves through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to the present. Airs Saturdays from November 7-21, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

AMERICAN MASTERS:  Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
First airing earlier this year, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool is a deep dive into the world of a beloved musical giant. The Grammy-nominated film takes a hard look at the mythology that surrounds the legend of Miles Davis, one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in music. Airs November 28, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

Reconstruction:  America After the Civil War
From 2019, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., presents a four-hour documentary series, exploring the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary  social change. The twelve years that composed the post-war Reconstruction era witnessed a seismic shift in the meaning and makeup of our democracy, with millions of former slaves and free Black people seeking out their rightful place as equal citizens  under the law. Airs Saturdays from December 5-12, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

AMERICAN MASTERS:  Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
First premiering in 2017, Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise traces Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South and her early performing career to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana and her many writing successes, including her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton, the film reveals hidden facets of her life during some of America’s most defining moments. Airs December 19, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

GREAT PERFORMANCES:  Twilight: Los Angeles
The film adaptation of Anna Deavere Smith’s play Twilight: Los Angeles first premiered in 2001. Offering an unflinching look at the fallout from the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King trial verdict, the film continues to reverberate powerfully today, giving voice to 40 real-life characters that spoke to her in hundreds of interviews.  Airs December 26, 2020 at 8 pm ET/ 9 pm PT

Learn more about World Channel at www.worldchannel.org.

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