Special Programming: Black History Month Programs on NHPR
Black History Month is an annual observance celebrating Black culture and the contributions of Black Americans to our country and its history. The event first originated in the United States, but is now recognized in other countries including the United Kingdom and Canada.
NHPR will present specials programs and series in February to commemorate remarkable Black activists, public figures, storytelling and cultural contributions. As our nation continues an ongoing conversation around racial justice, programming will reflect both stories of historical importance and issues that are top of mind today.
See the daily schedule of special programming below:
Friday, Feb. 5
9-10 pm: Witness History: Black History Month Special (BBC)
This hour-long special features eyewitness accounts of important moments in recent Black American history. Listeners will hear from the daughter of the man named in the court case which became a turning point in the battle for civil rights, plus the sister of a teenage girl killed in a racist bomb attack. We will also learn how the winning performance of an all-Black basketball team helped change white Americans’ attitudes toward segregation in sport.
Later, hear about Rodney King, whose attack by police in 1991 was caught on camera and seen by millions; the later acquittal of the officers sparked days of destructive rioting in Los Angeles. Listeners will also hear the story of Bilal Chatman, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison under the 1994 “three strikes law,” which many felt disproportionately affected Black Americans. Presenter Max Pearson talks to Professor Gloria Browne-Marshall of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to help put it all into context.
[NOTE: this broadcast will take place in the spot usually reserved for Fresh Air]
Saturday, Feb. 6
10-11 pm: Driving While Black (CBC)
This new podcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation features the story of Kenrick McRae of Montreal. In 2015, he was pulled over by police and told by an officer that his license plate lights weren’t bright enough. After having a dealership verify his lights were working fine, Kenrick got another light and mounted it himself to make sure law enforcement never gave him the same reason again. But he still was. In fact, no matter how scrupulous, Kenrick, who is Black, says he has been stopped by Montreal police multiple times. After Kenrick's girlfriend filmed him being handcuffed and detained during a traffic stop one night in 2017, he lodged a formal complaint with Quebec's police ethics committee, determined to prove that what happened to him and continued to happen was because of the color of his skin. This is the story of one person's ongoing experience of racial profiling by police, and how it then undermined every facet of his life.
[NOTE: This broadcast takes place during the Best of Public Radio spot]
Monday, Feb. 8
9-10 am: The Exchange: Black History Month Edition
The Exchange will air a show on the significance of burial sites and graves on our African American history in the United States, and in New Hampshire. A recent partnership between NHPR’s Civics 101 team and the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire involved the production of video interviews at some of New Hampshire’s historical burial sites of Black historical importance. During the show, host Laura Knoy and guests will talk about the historical treatment of burial sites, the efforts to preserve sites today, and the stories behind some of the historical figures buried in New Hampshire.
Guests will include:
JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of the Black Heritage Trail of NH;
Erica Armstrong Dunbar, historian and author of the book Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave (about Ona Judge, who fled to freedom to New Hampshire).
Saturdays: Feb. 13, Feb. 20 and Feb. 27
10-11 pm: KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans (NPR/WXPN)
Get ready to tap your feet and turn up the volume, as NPR will offer a special three-part radio series, KANAVAL: Haitian Rhythms and the Music of New Orleans. The program will explore and investigate the historical and present-day ties between the nation of Haiti and the city of New Orleans with a focus on the music that bonds together both places and their peoples. All three programs are hosted by the Grammy-winning Leyla McCalla and produced by WXPN, the member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania., KANAVAL will feature a two-hour audio documentary special and a one hour musical companion. The special will focus on themes such as the history of Saint-Domingue and the Haitian Revolution; a look into early Haitian immigration in North America and to New Orleans specifically; the cultural and musical ties between New Orleans and Haiti; exploring the Kanaval annual event and its historic significance, and 20th-century history in Haiti.
[NOTE: The three programs will air during the Best of Public Radio spot]
Sunday, Feb. 21
4-5 pm: Special Throughline Episode: Billie Holiday and Shirley Chisholm (NPR)
Throughline hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei will share a story of Billie Holiday, the legendary jazz and swing music singer known as “Lady Day”. Billie was harassed by U.S. government agents and told to stop singing “Strange Fruit,” a protest song about the lynching of Black Americans in the American South. Holiday’s refusal to stop singing the song had consequences for both her life and career.
The second story revolves around Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Chisholm later ran for president, despite being ridiculed and told she should not aim that high. This special episode of Throughline will look at the stories of both of these pioneering Black women, and their common humanity via refusals to back down from important fights.
[NOTE: This program will air in in its usual place]
Sunday, Feb. 28
4-5 pm: Special Throughline Episode: Octavia Butler (NPR)
A second Black History Month special from the Throughline team will delve into the story of award-winning American science fiction author Octavia Butler. Octavia was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction.” As a “mother of Afrofuturism,” her visionary works of alternate realities reveal striking, and often devastating, parallels to the world we live in today. Butler was fascinated by the cyclical nature of history and often looked to the past when writing about the future. She broke on to the science fiction scene at a time when she knew of no other Black women in the field, saying she simply had to “write herself in.”
[NOTE: This program will air in its usual place]