Honoring Black History Month on Television

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Black History Month launched earlier this week and with it comes a line-up of special programming on premium television that pays tribute to African-American history and culture. In the past couple of years especially, we have seen new channels and avenues pop up on pay TV that are dedicated to exploring the role that African-American culture plays in shaping our society and the course of current events. Black History Month is the perfect time for television and media to remind us how important it is to continue to encourage, support, and amplify the African-American voice in our communities. Here are just a few of the content packages you will find this month. Be on the look out for more specials with a focus on Black History Month and diversity to air on other networks and channels as the month goes on:

  • Xfinity is airing films and true stories that explore prominent African-Americans in history, politics, sports, and media and entertainment, as well as a series of interview segments that spotlight African-American women who work behind the scenes as directors and producers of our favorite shows and films on television.
  • Cox Communications is celebrating the month by making culturally-relevant programming available On Demand throughout February. Customers can easily find special content that focuses on African Americans by saying “Black History Month” into the Contour voice search remote.
  • HBO is making a point to honor iconic African-American film directors this month. “Black Directors You Should Know” is a curated slate of theatrical films and HBO original series available for streaming, which include movies from Spike Lee as well as one of HBO’s newer shows, “Insecure,” produced, created by and starring Issa Rae.
  • BET is showcasing a three-night miniseries called “Madiba” based on the life of Nelson Mandela. Another scripted show about a historically black college, “The Quad,” is also airing this month. Previously known for its music videos, BET’s move towards scripted dramas that center around African-American life and culture speaks volumes to the direction that the channel is headed.
  • TV One is hosting a campaign, “Creators of Cool,” throughout February featuring programming that recognizes African-Americans in various aspects of our culture, whether its music, sports, civil rights activism, or the performing arts. The campaign includes special segments about the African-American experience during “NewsOne Now,” the network’s daily news program, new episodes of its signature and award-winning series “Unsung,” the premiere of the movie “Media,” the 48th NAACP Image Awards, and additional commentaries, documentaries and movie broadcasts that highlight the struggles, victories and lives of African Americans.
  • ESPN’s The Undefeated, the network’s new website dedicated to race, sports and culture that we covered last fall, has also kicked off a Black History Month edition. The content, ranging from articles to videos to daily facts, sheds light on how African-Americans have shaped history. The “On this day in black history” section of The Undefeated brings a tidbit of African-American history each day that corresponds with that current day of the month in February.
  • Smithsonian Channel will premiere an hour-length film at the end of the month called, The Obama Years: The Power of Words,” which takes an in-depth look at former President Barack Obama’s memorable speeches over the eight years he was in office.
  • HISTORY Channel has a collection of articles and videos highlighting important moments in history that center on African Americans and civil rights. A myriad of photo galleries spotlight Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, the history of slavery, the battle over desegregation, and African-American women in politics, sports, music and literature. The site also includes snippets of audio of famous speeches given by prominent African Americans in history, including Jackie Robinson, Jesse Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, and more.
  • Disney Channel is weaving in a narrative into the network’s signature interstitial programming series, “Be Inspired,” that is based on African-American pilot Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson Sr., known for his leadership as Chief Civilian Flight Instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen. Additional segments in the interstitial series throughout Black History Month will include narratives on Martin Luther King, Jr., former President Barack Obama, Jackie Robinson, Maya Angelou, Viola Davis and more.