Celebrate Black History Month with Austin PBS

Posted on February 2, 2024

Celebrate Black History Month with new and insightful documentaries and discussions that examine and explore the achievements and historical impact of Black artists, activists, storytellers and visionaries. Tune in to Austin PBS this February to watch these stories.

Friday, February 2nd

7:30 pm Kindred Spirits: Artists Hilda Wilkinson Brown and Lilian Thomas Burwell

KINDRED SPIRITS explores the unique relationship between an African American aunt and niece who became accomplished artists and educators despite the hardships of the Great Depression and the inequities of racial segregation.

8:00 pm American Masters “Little Richard: The King and Queen of Rock and Roll”

"When I first heard Tutti Frutti, my heart nearly burst with excitement. The music filled the room with energy and color and outrageous defiance. I had heard God." -David Bowie. It's time. Little Richard is a legend from the golden era of rock. Richard is the cultural lightning rod who influenced some of rock music's most distinguished icons who will join us to validate Richard's unquestionable role in rock history: Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Prince and Bruce Springsteen. As Richard boastfully claims, "I am The King and Queen of Rock and Roll."

Monday, February 5th


COMING Monday, February 5th: LYLA IN THE LOOP

Lyla In The Loop is an all-new animated series for kids ages 4-8 starring Lyla, a dynamic 7-year-old Black girl, her close-knit family, fantastical blue sidekick Stu, and a host of relatable and quirky characters from across Lyla’s diverse community. Together they spotlight creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills while working collaboratively with others.

Premieres Monday, February 05 at 7:00 a.m. on Austin PBS 18.1 and at 3:00 p.m. on PBS Kids 18.4.

9:00 pm Pullman and the Railroad Rebellion: American Stories

In 1864, the powerful industrialist and engineer George Pullman brought luxury to overnight train travel with his revolutionary sleeping cars. Passengers aboard these rail cars were served by former slaves who became known as Pullman Porters and Maids. Pullman soon established a company town for employees on Chicago's South Side,giving him complete autonomy over every aspect of their lives. PULLMAN AND THE RAILROAD REBELLION: AMERICAN STORIES recounts the bloody rebellion that followed as Pullman's workers fought for their independence.

Tuesday, February 6th

7:00 pm Finding Your Roots “Far and Away”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the roots of journalist Sunny Hostin and actor Jesse Williams -- introducing them to ancestors from very diverse places.

8:00 pm Niagara Movement: The Early Battle for Civil Rights

THE NIAGARA MOVEMENT: THE EARLY BATTLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS is a one-hour documentary focused on the formation and impact of the first civil rights movement of the 20th century. The program traces the social and economic conditions of African Americans at the turn of the 20th century, examines the different strategies for racial advancement led by Black leaders of the time, explores the creation of the Niagara Movement, and places the movement's legacy into a contemporary context.

Friday, February 9th

7:30 pm Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius

Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius tells the remarkable life story of renowned African American jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player Eddie Henderson. Eddie's curiosity and need for exploration led him down many career paths, including figure skating and medicine and music.

8:00 pm Gospel Live! Presented By Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

GOSPEL Live! Presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a concert celebration honoring the legacy of Gospel music in America. As a companion to GOSPEL, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., secular and gospel artists sing their favorite gospel classics.

9:00 pm Wham Re-Bop-Boom-Bam: The Swing Jazz of Eddie Durham

Eddie Durham heard music differently, and he played it differently, too. Carrying rural southwestern blues influences with him from his hometown of San Marcos, Texas, Eddie became a leading architect of the Kansas City swing jazz sound in the 1920s and '30s. As a trombonist, guitarist, writer and arranger, he helped to author the signature sounds of Count Basie, Benny Moten, Jimmie Lunceford and Glenn Miller, while his pioneering work with amplified and electric guitars paved the way for today's rock 'n roll. Through interviews with family, friends and devoted fellow musicians of all ages, WHAM RE-BOP-BOOM-BAM: THE SWING JAZZ OF EDDIE DURHAM follows the musical journey of this often overlooked, but totally unique, musical genius.

Monday, February 12th

8:00 pm Gospel “The Gospel Train/Golden Age of Gospel”

GOSPEL, the latest history series from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., digs deep into the origin story of Black spirituality through sermon and song.

10:00 pm Becoming Frederick Douglass

Discover how a man born into slavery became one of the most influential voices for democracy in American history. Oscar nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson explores the role Douglass played in securing the right to freedom for African Americans.

Tuesday, February 13th

7:00 pm Finding Your Roots “The Brick Wall Falls”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. introduces actor Danielle Brooks and singer Dionne Warwick to their distant ancestors -- breaking down the barriers imposed by slavery.

8:00 pm Gospel “Take The Message Everywhere/Gospel's Second Century”

10:00 pm Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom

Go beyond the legend and meet the woman who repeatedly risked her own life and freedom to liberate others from slavery. One of the greatest freedom fighters in U.S. history, Tubman was an Underground Railroad conductor, a Civil War scout, and a spy.

Friday, February 16th

7:30 pm Freedom House Ambulance: The First Responders

In 1967, inner city Pittsburgh produced America's first EMT service. Composed solely of Black men and women recruited from the city's Hill District neighborhood, the paramedics of Freedom House Ambulance became trailblazers in providing pre-hospital and CPR care. Freedom House initially developed to respond to the needs of Pittsburgh's African American community, which often could not rely on police and fire departments during an emergency. Their groundbreaking work became the basis for all paramedic training in the country. However, despite its success, racism and power dynamics in the city shut down Freedom House in 1975, leaving its legacy almost lost to history. FREEDOM HOUSE AMBULANCE: THE FIRST RESPONDERS explores the rise and fall of Freedom House Ambulance.

8:00 pm Secrets of the Dead “The Woman in the Iron Coffin”

Follow a team of forensic experts as they investigate the preserved remains of a young African American woman from 19th century New York and reveal the little-known story of early America's free black communities.

9:00 pm House on Jonathan Street

The accidental discovery of the significant history of a modest dwelling on a traditionally African American street in Hagerstown, Maryland is used to trace the roots of middle America's racial, economic and social interactions. Through the lens of this house, the rise and fall of the African American community in small rust belt towns and cities across America is told. And how its discovery, renovation and renewal may portend a change in the fortunes of the street and the larger community.

Monday, February 19th

2:00 pm Symphony Celebration: The Blind Boys of Alabama with Dr. Henry Panion, III

Celebrate a message of peace and love with the five-time Grammy-winning Blind Boys of Alabama.

Tuesday, February 20th

7:00 pm Finding Your Roots “Mean Streets”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. maps the family trees of comedian Tracy Morgan and actor Anthony Ramos -- taking the two New York City natives far from their hometown.

Friday, February 23rd

7:30 pm Odessa’s Reign

Odessa Madre, nicknamed Queen of the Underworld, was a prosperous numbers runner and a key figure in a lucrative gambling ring in Washington, D.C. in the 1950s. Leading the paper chase gave her prestige within the mob, power in her neighborhood, and control over the men charged with enforcing the law - all while being an African American woman in a segregated city.

Tuesday, February 27th

7:00 pm Finding Your Roots “And Still I Rise”

Henry Louis Gates reveals the unexpected family trees of activist Angela Y. Davis and statesman Jeh Johnson, using DNA and long-lost records to redefine notions of the black experience-and challenge preconceptions of America's past.