During Black History Month in February, PBS will air an array of documentaries and programs that aim to examine the African-American experience beginning with The Birth of a Movement on Feb. 6.
Featuring interviews with historians and filmmakers such as Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Spike Lee, “Birth of a Movement” is based on the book The Birth of a Movement: How Birth of a Nation Ignited the Battle for Civil Rights by Dick Lehr. The documentary tells the little-known story of William Trotter, an African-American journalist who launched a protest against the 1915 release of D. W. Griffith’s controversial epic, which laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement to come.
On Feb. 10, PBS will air Smokey Robinson, which is hosted by Samuel L. Jackson and will include an interview with Motown founder Berry Gordy and performances by many artists including BeBe Winans, Ledisi, and CeeLo Green.
On Feb. 20, watch the two-hour documentary The Talk-Race in America. It examines some of the victims who died during encounters with police officers. The film illustrates the issue from multiple points of view: parent, child, the police and the community. The includes interviews with well-known filmmakers and actors including actress Rosie Perez, director/screenwriter/producer John Singleton, New York Times columnist Charles Blow, and Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy killed by the Cleveland police in a local park.
On Tuesday, Feb. 21, American Masters presents Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, the first documentary about Dr. Maya Angelou (1928-2014), best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Also airing throughout February is the second season of the PBS original series Mercy Street on Sundays at 8 p.m., beginning Jan. 22. The Civil War era drama is about the chaotic world of Union-occupied Alexandria, Va., and the Mansion House Hospital in the early years of the Civil War.
From Feb. 27-March 1, from 9 p.m.-11 p.m., Louis Gates Jr. will narrate Africa’s Great Civilizations.
Please check local listings for more information.