New specials for Black History Month

KLRU broadcasts programming created by and about people from all cultures year-round, from public affairs to history to independent film to kids programming. In celebration of Black History Month, KLRU will broadcast these new programs honoring and exploring African American culture.

IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE will air Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.
President and Mrs. Obama host a concert in the White House East Room in honor of Black History Month. Artists include Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers, featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett and Toshi Reagon. Morgan Freeman is a guest speaker.

FACES OF AMERICA WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. airs Feb. 10, 17, 24 and March 3 at 7 p.m.
What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of FACES OF AMERICA WITH HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR. Building on the success of his series AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES (called by The New York Times “the most exciting and stirring documentary on any subject to appear on television in a long time”) and AFRICAN AMERICAN LIVES 2, Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. again turns to the latest tools of genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of 12 renowned Americans.

This two-part series is an inspiring, definitive and unprecedented look at the largely untold history of African-American participation in America’s armed forces, from the earliest days of the Revolutionary War to the conflict in Afghanistan. Ten years in the making, this mini-series examines why, despite enormous injustice, these men and women fought so valiantly for freedoms they did not enjoy. Introduced by General Colin Powell and hosted by Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry, the film uses letters, diaries, speeches, journalistic accounts, historical text and military records to document and acknowledge the profound sacrifices and largely ignored of African-American service men and women. The films also include dramatic readings by an all-star roster of actors, including Morgan Freeman, Mel Gibson, Bill Cosby, Susan Sarandon, Lou Gossett Jr., John Travolta, Ossie Davis, Robert Duvall, Danny Glover, Sam Elliot, Delroy Lindo, Isaac Hayes, John Goodman, Ice-T and many others.

Family Choice: HISTORY DETECTIVES Sunday, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m.
Host Wes Cowan visits a music historian in Los Angeles to explore the coded messages and the melodies that laid the foundation of modern blues, gospel and protest songs of future generations. He also meets with Washington, DC’s Howard University Choir for a special concert of selections from Slave Songs sung in the traditional style of mid-1800s spirituals. Josh White Guitar – A Michigan man owns a Guild brand acoustic guitar that he says once belonged to legendary African-American folksinger Josh White, who is credited with introducing black folk, gospel and blues music to a world audience in the 1940s. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Elyse Luray travels around New York City and New Jersey to explore the crossover appeal of Josh White’s music and his ability to win over a racially polarized music industry. Birthplace of Hip Hop – A hip hop enthusiast from New York City has always heard that 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx is the birthplace of hip-hop. The story goes that on August 11, 1973, DJ Kool Herc, a building resident, was entertaining at his sister’s back- to-school party and tried something new on the turntable: he extended an instrumental beat (breaking or scratching) to let people dance longer (breakdancing) and began MC’ing (rapping) during the extended breakdancing. This, the contributor believes, marked the birth of hip-hop. The music led to an entire cultural movement that’s altered generational thinking – from politics and race to art and language. HISTORY DETECTIVES host Tukufu Zuberi sets out to examine an inner-city environment that helped lay the foundation for a cultural revolution.

AMERICAN MASTERS presents “Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun” on
Monday, February 22 at 9 p.m.
Zora Neale Hurston was a writer, cultural anthropologist, chronicler of folk roots and ethnic traditions and daughter of former slaves. Hurston was one of the most celebrated — and most controversial — figures of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. She attained unique success in all areas, but her words and her conclusions were often surrounded in contention. She ultimately died a pauper’s death in total obscurity. Now considered a lioness of African American literature, she was resurrected by Alice Walker and such works as her “Dust Tracks on a Road” and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” are now essential reading.