With the arrival of Black History Month on Tuesday, PBS is rolling out a slate of programs celebrating the achievements of African Americans who helped shape the nation.
The programs include documentaries and specials on such iconic figures as opera singer Marian Anderson [shown above] and voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The network will also air encore presentations on Muhammad Ali, Miles Davis, Chuck Berry, and late Congressman John Lewis.
“PBS is thrilled to anchor this year’s Black History Month celebration with programs featuring powerful trailblazers,” said Sylvia Bugg, the network’s chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming.
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In addition to the broadcast programs, viewers can stream the content on station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app.
Below are details on the Black History Month programs in order of their airdates.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS “Chuck Berry”
Encore – Tuesday, February 1, 2022, 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET
Take a riveting ride on the Chuck Berry train, exploring the life of the man behind the music. By blending “hillbilly” music with R&B and writing impactful lyrics, Berry birthed a renaissance in popular music we now call rock and roll.
MUHAMMAD ALI “Round Two: What’s My Name? (1964-1970)”
Encore – Friday, February 4, 2022, 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET
Cassius Clay publicly joins the Nation of Islam and takes the name, Muhammad Ali. When he refuses induction into the Army, he is stripped of his title and forced into exile. After three years, he returns to the ring, but he’s lost a step.
INDEPENDENT LENS “Owned: A Tale of Two Americas”
Premiere – Monday, February 7, 2022, 10:00 – 11:30 p.m. ET
Is the “American Dream” of home ownership a false promise? Postwar housing policy created the world’s largest middle class, but it set two divergent paths – one of perceived wealth and the other of systematically defunded, segregated communities.
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FINDING YOUR ROOTS “Fighters”
Premiere – Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. sits down with Terry Crews and Tony Danza, both guests who overcame adversity, to discover they aren’t the first in their families to beat the odds through sheer force of will.
AMERICAN MASTERS “Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands”
Premiere – Tuesday, February 8, 2022, 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET
Discover an international singer who captivated royalty in Europe and defied the conscience of 1939 America. Watch rare archival footage and hear audio recordings exploring her life and career from the Metropolitan Opera to the State Department.
MUHAMMAD ALI “Round Three: The Rivalry (1970-1974)”
Encore – Friday, February 11, 2022, 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET
Muhammad Ali battles his fiercest rivals, Joe Frazier and the U.S. government, as he attempts to regain the heavyweight title. He first loses to and then defeats Frazier, but he will have to beat George Foreman to become champion again.
FINDING YOUR ROOTS “Forgotten Journeys”
Premiere – Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps John Leguizamo and Lena Waithe retrace the paths of their ancestors, uncovering crucial pieces of their own identities that were lost on the journey to America.
AMERICAN EXPERIENCE “The American Diplomat”
Premiere – Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. ET
Discover how three Black diplomats broke racial barriers at the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. Asked to represent the best of American ideals abroad while facing discrimination at home, they left a lasting impact on the Foreign Service.
FRONTLINE “American Reckoning”
Premiere – Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 10:00 – 11:30 p.m. ET
An unsolved 1960s murder reveals an untold story of the civil rights movement and Black resistance. With Retro Report, the film draws on rarely seen footage filmed more than 50 years ago in Natchez, MS, and follows one family’s search for justice.
MUHAMMAD ALI “Round Four: The Spell Remains (1974-2016)”
Encore – Friday, February 18, 2022, 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET
Muhammad Ali shocks the world by defeating George Foreman, winning back the heavyweight title and becoming the most famous man on earth. After retiring in 1981, he travels the world spreading his Islamic faith and becomes a symbol of peace and hope.
FINDING YOUR ROOTS “Songs of the Past”
Premiere – Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. accompanies Broadway stars Leslie Odom, Jr. and Nathan Lane as they meet a cast of inspiring ancestors hidden in the branches of their family trees.
FANNIE LOU HAMER’S AMERICA: AN AMERICA REFRAMED SPECIAL
Premiere – Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 9:00 – 10:30 p.m. ET
Explore and celebrate the life of a fearless Mississippi sharecropper-turned-human-rights-activist and the injustices in America that made her work essential.
JOHN LEWIS – GET IN THE WAY
Encore – Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 10:30–11:30 p.m. ET
Follow the courageous journey of John Lewis, whose unwavering fight for justice spanned the past 50 years, from his youth in the segregated South, through his leadership within the Civil Rights movement, to his role as a powerful voice in Congress.
AMERICAN MASTERS “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”
Encore – Friday, February 25, 2022, 9:00 – 11:00 p.m. ET
Discover the man behind the legend in this two-time Emmy-winning and Grammy-nominated Stanley Nelson film featuring never-before-seen footage, including studio outtakes from his recording sessions, rare photos and new interviews.