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PBS CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH
WITH AN EXTENSIVE LINEUP OF SPECIAL PROGRAMMING
February 1-February 28, 2009

ARLINGTON, VA — January 5, 2009 — From history to performing arts to independent film, PBS offers viewers the opportunity to explore the rich and vibrant history and cultural contributions of African Americans throughout the year, but will offer a special slate of new and encore programs in honor of Black History Month, February 2009.

HISTORY DETECTIVES will hit the road to search for the truth about a slave songbook, a guitar once owned by African-American singer-songwriter Josh White and a house that some claim is the birthplace of hip-hop. Henry Louis Gates Jr. dissects the myths surrounding Abraham Lincoln in LOOKING FOR LINCOLN, while SIMON SCHAMA’S ROUGH CROSSINGS transports viewers on the journey of freed slaves who fought for the British during the Revolutionary War, from the cotton fields of George to sweltering Sierra Leone.

INDEPENDENT LENS offers three new films about race in February. “Adjust Your Color: The Truth about Petey Greene” profiles America’s first “shock jock,” who, with his raw, unvarnished voice, spoke truth to power on his groundbreaking radio and television series. “Tulia, Texas” examines the price Americans pay for the nation’s war on drugs and “The Order of Myths” reveals the parallel black and white worlds of Mardi Gras Secret Societies in Mobile, Alabama, where separate and unequal is still the order of the day.

AN EVENING WITH EARTHA KITT celebrates the life of the legendary entertainer, who passed away in December 2008, with a freewheeling and frank interview with PBS’ Gwen Ifill.

Press Preview Copies of Programs Available Upon Request

NEW PROGRAMMING:

AN EVENING WITH EARTHA KITT
February 2009 (check local listings)
In this lively and playful interview, Gwen Ifill talks with legendary late performer Eartha Kitt about her stage, dance and film career. The program features a live performance by Kitt of three musical numbers: “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “La Vie en Rose” and “Here’s to Life.”

FAUBOURG TREMÉ: THE UNTOLD STORY OF BLACK NEW ORLEANS
February, 2009 (check local listings)
Arguably the oldest black neighborhood in America and the birthplace of jazz, Faubourg Tremé was home to the largest community of free black people in the Deep South during slavery and a hotbed of political ferment. Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans newspaperman, tours this storied nerighborhood.

HISTORY DETECTIVES Episode #611
Monday, February 23, 2009, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
America’s top gumshoes prove once again that an object found in an attic or backyard might be anything but ordinary. A California man discovered a book titled Slave Songs of the United States. Could this be the first book of African-American spirituals ever published? A Michigan man owns a guitar that he says once belonged to legendary African-American folksinger Josh White, and a hip-hop enthusiast from New York has always heard that a house in the Bronx is the birthplace of hip hop. Is this really true? The History Detectives try to find out.

Read more about the adventures of the History Detectives, watch online video and submit your own mystery at http://www.pbs.org/historydetectives.
HISTORY DETECTIVES is available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

INDEPENDENT LENS
This acclaimed Emmy® Award-winning anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Terrence Howard hosts.

Dig deeper into the topics covered on INDEPENDENT LENS and watch online video at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens.
Select INDEPENDENT LENS films are available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

INDEPENDENT LENS “Adjust Your Color: The Truth About Petey Greene”
Tuesday, February 3, 2009, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings)
America’s original shock-jock, Petey Greene, became a leading activist during some of the most tumultuous years in recent history.
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/adjustyourcolor

INDEPENDENT LENS “Tulia, Texas”
Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings)
The story of a small Texas town’s search for justice and the price Americans pay for the nation’s war on drugs.
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/tuliatexas

INDEPENDENT LENS “The Order of Myths”
Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings)
Race relations surrounding Mobile Alabama’s Mardi Gras celebration; followed by a satirical look at the racial tension experienced by young Americans of mixed ethnic backgrounds.
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/orderofmyths

LOOKING FOR LINCOLN
Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET
Henry Louis Gates Jr. (AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES and OPRAH’S ROOTS) dissects the myths that have grown up around Abraham Lincoln.

SIMON SCHAMA’S ROUGH CROSSINGS
Monday, February 16, 2009, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings)
At the end of the American Revolution, slaves were offered freedom in return for service to the British. This is the story of their resettlement first in Nova Scotia, then Sierra Leone, where dreams of a haven came to a tragic end.


ENCORE PROGRAMMING:

AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2
February 2009 (check local listings)
Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. guides a group — including poet Maya Angelou, actors Don Cheadle and Morgan Freeman, radio host Tom Joyner, comedian Chris Rock and rock ’n’ roll legend Tina Turner — on a journey to discover their ancestry. The four-part series draws on DNA analysis, genealogical research and family oral tradition to trace the lineages of the participants down through U.S. history and back to Africa.

More information is available at http://pbs.org/africanamericanlives.
AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2 is available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

EYES ON THE PRIZE: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
February 2009 (check local listings)
The groundbreaking documentary series examining America’s civil rights years covers the period from the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi, and the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott through school desegregation, the march from Selma to Montgomery and the Voting Rights Act. EYES ON THE PRIZE is considered the definitive history of this formative time in the nation’s life.

Explore the Civil Rights Movement through video, music and more at http://www.pbs.org/eyesontheprize.
EYES ON THE PRIZE is available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

FANNIE LOU HAMER: COURAGE AND FAITH
February 2009 (check local listings)
This program chronicles the extraordinary life of Fannie Lou Hamer, who attended the 1964 Democratic National Convention as a member of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party and challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life”
Tuesday, February 17, 2009, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings)
Duke Ellington’s co-composer, arranger and right-hand man, Billy Strayhorn, a gay man, had to lead a discreet existence. An Emmy® and Peabody Award winner.

View clips of current artists performing Strayhorn classics and learn more at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/billystrayhorn.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes”
February 2009 (check local listings)
This film takes an in-depth look at machismo in rap music and hip-hop culture — where creative genius, poetic beauty and mad beats collide with misogyny, violence and homophobia. By Byron Hurt.

Explore the history and controversy behind the music at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/hiphop.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” is available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

SHARED HISTORY
February 2009 (check local listings)
SHARED HISTORY is the intimate story of the relationship between two families whose connection was forged in slavery and has endured to the present.

SIGNPOST TO FREEDOM: THE 1953 BATON ROUGE BUS BOYCOTT
Sunday, February 22, 2009, 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings)
This documentary tells the story of the nation’s first large-scale boycott challenging segregation in Louisiana.

SISTERS OF SELMA: BEARING WITNESS FOR CHANGE
February 2009 (check local listings)
This program is an unabashedly spiritual take on the Selma, Alabama, voting rights marches of 1965 from some of its unsung foot soldiers — Catholic nuns.

SISTERS OF SELMA is available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

THE STORY OF OSCAR BROWN JR.
February 2009 (check local listings)
This documentary focuses on Chicago native Oscar Brown Jr.’s work as a writer and performer for over a half a century.

UNFORGIVABLE BLACKNESS: THE RISE AND FALL OF JACK JOHNSON
February 2009 (check local listings)
This film by Ken Burns chronicles the life and career of boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion and one of the greatest fighters of the 20th century. Winner of 2005 Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Voice-Over Performance.

Learn more about the life and times of Jack Johnson at http://www.pbs.org/unforgivableblackness.
UNFORGIVEABLE BLACKNESS: THE RISE AND FALL OF JACK JOHNSON is available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

ZORA’S ROOTS
February 2009 (check local listings)
This program examines the life of author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, best known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Watch clips and learn more at http://www.pbs.org/zorasroots.
ZORA’S ROOTS is available from PBS Home Video: ShopPBS.org; 877-PBS-SHOP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


CONTINUING SERIES:

TAVIS SMILEY
Monday-Friday, 11:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings)
Tavis Smiley hosts this program, featuring interviews with newsmakers, politicians, celebrities and everyday people.

Watch online video, download podcasts, read the “Young Voices” blog and find more info about Tavis Smiley at http://www.pbs.org/tavissmiley.

Other series that regularly cover topics and profile guests and performers of interest to African Americans include FRONTLINE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER, NOW ON PBS, P.O.V. and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL, among many others.

About PBS
PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans – from every walk of life – the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 115 million people on-air and online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.


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