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Black History Month Programming On WFPL

black history month
U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Rebecca Imwalle/ Released

Over the next two weeks, WFPL will celebrate Black History Month with special programming — some stories you may be familiar with and some you may not.

They include pieces on key events in black history, including a new documentary on the 1955 murder of teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi, stories of black change-makers and entrepreneurs, and two pieces on the personal ways people interpret their race.

And on Thursday, February 28, we’ll debut a new project produced this year as part of The Next Louisville: Youth Voices with support from the Community Foundation of Louisville and WE Day Kentucky. Every other month we’ll convene a panel of local youth to discuss a particular issue, answering questions posed by one of their peers. This month, the discussion is about issues of discrimination, representation and black identity, and the four students had a lot to say.

A full schedule is below; you can listen to any of these specials on 89.3 FM or stream online here.

Tuesday 2/19 at 8 p.m.

The Ballads of Emmett Till
Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was murdered in 1955, and his death continues to resonate. Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and many more have been drawn to tell his tale. The BBC's Maria Margaronis travels through landscape and memory across Mississippi and Chicago to reveal the many layers of meaning and the many ways Emmett's story has been told and re-told.

Wednesday 2/20 at 8 p.m.

State of the Re:Union: Re:Defining Black History
During a month selected to celebrate “history,” we certainly are treated to a lot of the same familiar stories: the battles won for Civil Rights, the glory of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, the hardships endured by slaves. And as important as those narratives are for us to collectively remember, many others get lost in trumpeting the same heroic tales. In this hour, State of the Re:Union zeroes in some of those alternate narratives, ones edited out of the mainstream imagining of Black History, deconstructing the popular perception of certain celebrated moments. From a more complicated understanding of the impact of the Civil Rights Act of ’64 on Jackson, Mississippi… to a city in Oklahoma still trying to figure out how to tell the history of one particular race riot… to one woman’s wrangling with her own personal racial history.

Thursday 2/21 at 8 p.m.

Can Do: Stories of Black Visionaries, Seekers and Entrepreneurs
From The Kitchen Sisters and PRX, a Black History Month Special: "Can Do: Stories of Black Visionaries, Seekers, and Entrepreneurs," with host, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress, Alfre Woodard. These stories come from The Kitchen Sisters collection — stories of black pioneers, self-made men and self-taught women, neighborhood heroes and visionaries. People who said "yes we can" and then did.

Tuesday 2/26 at 8 p.m.

BBC: Witness
Go back in time to key events in history and hear the story of our times told by the people who were there. Witness features first-hand accounts, archive material and insight from historians. Hosted by various BBC World Service presenters.

Wednesday 2/27 at 8 p.m.

State of the Re:Union: As Black As We Wish To Be
In this episode Al Letson and guest producer Lu Olkowski visit a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that they look white. Racial lines have been blurred to invisibility, and people inside the same family can vehemently disagree about whether they are black or white. It can be tense and confusing. As a result, everyone’s choosing: Am I black? Am I mixed race? Or, am I white? Adding to the confusion, there’s a movement afoot to recognize their Native-American heritage.

Thursday 2/28 at 8 p.m.

Next Louisville: Youth Voices
In this youth talk show — supported by the Community Foundation of Louisville and WE Day Kentucky — moderator Alexis Cammock, a senior at Presentation Academy, speaks with students Ashanti Scott (Butler High School), Nia Douglas (The Brown School) and Jalen Dykes (W.E.B. DuBois Academy) about identity, black representation in pop culture, politics and the media, and how black history is taught in Louisville’s schools.

Thursday 2/28 at 8:30 p.m.

In 1951 a group of African-American students at Robert R. Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Virginia, organized a strike to protest the substandard school facilities provided for black students. The walkout, led by 16 year old Barbara Johns, is one of the great stories in the struggle for Civil Rights — a story of courage and persistence against what seemed at the time like overwhelming odds.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.