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PBS Announces Black History Month Programming Specials

Two National Guard soldiers escort an African-American man during a St. Louis race riot on June 6, 1917. The incident is highlighted in the “Independent Lens” documentary “American Denial” airing Feb. 23. (Photo © Bettmann/Corbis)

PBSBlack History Month programming includes special episodes of “Antiques Roadshow” and “Genealogy Roadshow,” two new “Independent Lens” documentaries and an “American Masters” premiere, the network announced.

“Antiques Roadshow” premieres “Celebrating Black Americana,” where, among other items, participants bring for appraisal an 1821 citizenship certificate for a free man of color and an African-American beauty book written by entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, an Indianapolis native who was the first American women millionaire. The episode airs 9 p.m. Feb. 9.

On “Genealogy Roadshow,” professional genealogists use history and science to uncover fascinating family secrets in New Orleans that explore family links to the Civil War and connections to the famous 19th century New Orleans voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, at 8 p.m. EST Feb. 3. Other shows focus on St. Louis, 8 p.m. Feb. 10, and Philadelphia, 8 p.m. Feb. 17.

“Independent Lens” airs the documentaries “Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People,” which tells the story of pioneering African-American photographers who have recorded the lives and aspirations of generations of people, from slavery to present; and “American Denial,” which uses the story of Swedish Nobel Prize laureate economist, sociologist, and politician Gunnar Myrdal’s 1944 investigation of Jim Crow racism to explore unconscious biases and how the liberty, equality and justice still affect notions of race and class. “Through a Lens Darkly” airs 10 p.m. EST Feb. 16; and “American Denial” airs 10 p.m. EST Feb. 23.

“American Masters” premieres “August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand,” which examines the legacy of August Wilson, whom some call the United States’ William Shakespeare, garnered two Pulitzer prizes for drama and died in 2005 at the age of 65 years old. Airing 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20 in honor of the 70th anniversary of his birth and 10th anniversary of Wilson’s death, James Earl Jones, Viola Davis, Phylicia Rashad, Laurence Fishburne, Charles Dutton and others share stories of their career and life experiences bringing Wilson’s rich theatrical voice to the stage.

Also airing in February is “Shakespeare Uncovered,” with programs telling the the stories behind British playwright Shakespeare’s greatest plays, with hosts including Morgan Freeman and David Harewood. “The Taming of the Shrew With Morgan Freeman” airs 9 p.m. EST Feb. 6; and “Othello with David Harewood” airs 10 p.m. Feb. 6.

Other PBS series that will offer Black History Month programming include “Frontline,” Great Performances,” “Pov,” “PBS News Hour,” “Tavis Smiley” and “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill.”

PBS also offers it Black Culture Connection resource and guide.

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