WORLD CHANNEL, the channel which brings diversity of all sorts to public television is marking Juneteenth with a robust slate of films and episodes about the Black experience. From delving into history and the lives of key Black figures like Fannie Lou Hamer, Nina Simone, Muhammad Ali and Madam C.J. Walker and more to current day heroes fighting racism, police brutality and voter suppression, these films will broaden your understanding of Black history and present-day America.
The films take viewers into communities all across the country, including Chicago, Minneapolis, Asheville (NC), New Orleans and Ferguson, Missouri. Filmmakers include Stanley Nelson, Sam Pollard, Ken Burns, Yoruba Richen and Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster as well as newer voices.
Offerings include select films and episodes from WORLD Channel original series America ReFramed (with American Documentary (AmDoc); Local, USA; AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange (with Black Public Media) and Stories from the Stage, as well as the classic public television series American Experience, American Masters, Independent Lens, POV and Reel South.
The nation’s newest federal holiday, Juneteenth (short for June Nineteenth) celebrates the end of slavery in America. Also known as “Freedom Day,” Juneteenth marks the day, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, when Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, with the news that those enslaved were freed.
“Juneteenth commemorates the watershed moment in American history, the freeing of the enslaved, while highlighting the fraught struggles to maintain and increase the freedoms that continue today,” said Chris Hastings, executive producer/managing editor of WORLD Channel at GBH in Boston. “Our curated offerings help viewers remember the past while envisioning the promise of the future.”
Viewers can explore Black history with six episodes of the renowned civil rights documentary series Eyes on the Prize and powerful documentaries on towering figures in Black history, including Fannie Lou Hamer (Fannie Lou Hamer’s America by Joy Davenport), Muhammad Ali (Muhammad Ali by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon) and Madam C.J. Walker (Two Dollars and a Dream by Nelson).
Those who tune in will be transported to communities across America where descendants of slaves are both enjoying and continuing to fight for their freedom. The Falconer follows an African American man building a bird sanctuary in Maryland; Muni captures Black golfers in Asheville, North Carolina, and Professional Black Girl celebrates #blackgirlmagic and #blackexcellence in New Orleans. How It Feels to be Free, directed by Yoruba Richen and executive produced by Alicia Keys, explores trailblazing Black woman entertainers Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier as they take on the entertainment industry and the racist tropes it perpetuates through their art and activism.
The films take viewers into battles for voting rights (Metcalfe Park: Black Vote Rising) and efforts to combat police brutality in Chicago (Unapologetic), Kinloch and Ferguson, Missouri (Where the Pavement Ends) and Birmingham (Missing Magic). Stephenson and Brewster’s The Conversation Remix and Joua Lee Grande’s On All Fronts delves into the aftermath of the racial reckoning of 2020. Always in Season, about the hanging death of Lennon Lacy, explores America’s legacy of lynching. Pollard’s Goin’ Back to T-Town depicts the destruction of the once thriving community of Greenwood in Tulsa, known as, “Black Wall Street,” as the result of a race massacre. An esteemed elder works to preserve the last remaining Georgia enclave of Geechee culture and their land in Sapelo. The Growing Up Black episode of Stories from the Stage looks at storytellers sharing the challenges of stereotypes, experiencing racism and being young and Black in America.
In addition to the documentaries, viewers will have a chance to explore The History of White People in America, musical animated short films about how skin color has come to define race — and race power in America.
For all available JUNETEENTH films, please visit the 19 Films to Watch to Celebrate Juneteenth streaming guide. Additional Race In America content is available to stream on the WORLD Channel website, YouTube channel, PBS Passport and the PBS App.