Black History Month 2014 is coming to a close today, however this does not mean Americans cannot continue learning more about Black History. This history is American history, filled with pain, disappointments, joy and achievements. Black history has been the vanguard for other people of color in America; Native Americans (celebrated in November), Asian and Pacific Americans (celebrated in May) and Hispanic Heritage Month (celebrated from September 15 – October 15). Women’s History Month (celebrated in March) and Jewish American History Month (celebrated in May) has also modeled after Black History Month.
PBS for years has always celebrated Black History Month and this year was no exception. Listed below are titles the network has presented –
The African American Experience (2013). The well-scripted documentary by historian and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. illustrates a series of the struggles, attempts and gains of African Americans since crossing the Atlantic, the emergence of slavery, and the rise in U.S. society. The series also covers class, economic and political disparities despite the first African American and current President of the United States.
The Morgan Choir: A Joyful Celebration (2004). Baltimore, Md.’s Morgan State University Choir, known internationally, performs spiritual tunes lead by director Nathan Carter.
The Black Kungfu Experience (2013). Examines four martial artists that include Ron Van Clief and its effect in the United States.
Gospel Jubilee Showcase (2013). Clifton Davis hosts gospel performances by famous gospel singers Albertina Walker, the Caravans and others in a cavalcade of gospel music.
Washington in the 70s (2010). The capital when known as “Chocolate City.”
Anne Devere Smith: A Young Arts Masterclass (2013). The actress/playwright mentors a group of promising young actors.
Soul Food Junkies (2012). Filmmaker Byron Hurt explains the fundamentals of soul food.
Unforgivable Blackness (2005). The rise and fall of the first black heavyweight boxer in the world, Jack Johnson.
The March (2013). Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington narrates the 1963 March on Washington and the planning that took place to make it happen.
Frontline: The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela (1999). Friends, colleagues and prison guards discuss the man who became his country’s President of South Africa after being imprisoned for 27 years.
Blacks in Latin America (2011). Historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. puts forth an amazing documentary of how blacks live in different parts of the world, in this case Lain America; which includes Haiti, Mexico, Peru, and Brazil.
The Education of Harvey Gantt (2014). The first African American to attend and graduate from Clemson University, he continued his studies with honors at MIT and became a well-known architect.
For the Love of Liberty: The Stories of America’s Black Patriots (2010). Blacks participate in America’s armed forces. Hosted by Academy Award winning actress Halle Berry.
Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth (2014). The first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel The Color Purple; which was later made into a film, the documentary focuses on Alice’s life, her marriage, troubles with her daughter, her rise in the literary world and her activism.
Other Black Specials
Black College Quiz. Historically Black colleges and Universities (HBCU) students answered questions relating to Black Americans (past and present) for a chance to win scholarship money.
Road to Freedom. The two-hour special gave the history of the black freedom movement from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement.
Hattie’s Lost Legacy. Hattie McDaniel was the first black to ever win an Academy Award for her portrayal of “Mammy” in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind. The special concentrated on McDaniel’s career; however her Oscar, in which she won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, disappeared at Howard University. A preview of the program is the main video in this article.
Mo’Nique, the comedian/actress, won for Best Supporting Actress in 2009 for the movie Precious playing the role of Mary Lee Johnston. She dedicated her Oscar to Hattie McDaniel.
Here are her comments from the Baltimore Sun –
“The time is right,” says last year’s Academy Award winner Mo’Nique regarding the return of McDaniel’s Oscar in “Hattie’s Lost Legacy.” Last February, upon winning her Best Supporting Actress honor, McDaniel was the first person Mo’Nique acknowledged in her acceptance speech. “I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring what she did, so I wouldn’t have to.” Mo’Nique further discusses the inspiration she drew from McDaniel’s life and career. And she talks about why she replicated the blue gown and fresh gardenias that McDaniel wore on Oscar night 1940.
NAACP Image Awards. Hosted by comedian/actor Anthony Anderson this year on Feb. 22, the show’s premise is “Excellence in film, television, music, and literature by outstanding people of color.” This is the first year the program had a red carpet lineup and TV1 has a contract for the program for five years.
Martin Luther King Jr.: More Than a Dream. Documentary of first person accounts of the Civil Rights Movement, the life of King and visit to the new memorial of King on the National Mall.
Movies/Specials on Pay Cable Channels
At the River I Stand (1993). The last two months of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death.
A Soldier’s Story (1984). The movie is based on Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize Off Broadway play A Soldier’s Play. The film’s plot is about a black Army officer who investigates a murder of a black sergeant in 1944 Louisiana at an all-black unit. The main stars were Howard E. Rollins, Jr., Adolph Caesar and Denzel Washington.
Crash (2004). The film won an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2005. Racial and social tensions highlighted the film in intertwined stories of residents in Los Angeles. Stars included actors Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton.
Beloved (1998). Based on the bestselling novel by Toni Morrison, a bizarre story that tries to capture secrets and supernatural forces in the home of a former slave and her daughter. Stars include Oprah Winfrey, Thandie Newton and Danny Glover.
Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football (2008). Written by HBO is the following –
Focusing on football programs in the Southeastern, Southwest and Atlantic Coast Conferences, Breaking The Huddle: The Integration of College Football chronicles the heyday of football programs at historically black colleges and universities, and explores the profound effect of the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s on the racial status quo of college athletics. The story culminates with the Sept. 1970 game played in Birmingham between the University of Southern California, and the University of Alabama.
Many more specials and programs were aired, some descriptions have been copied. Remember this – Black History is American History!