PBS to broadcast documentaries and specials on racism and police

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PBS will rebroadcast "The Talk: Race in America," a 2017 documentary.

PBS will stream and broadcast several programs about race, law enforcement and civil disobedience this week as protests continue in dozens of cities nationwide.

Programming starts Thursday night with a rebroadcast of The Talk: Race in America, a 2017 documentary that told six stories of people dealing with racism and law enforcement. “The talk” refers to conversations families of color have with children about what to do and how to react if stopped by police.

Friday night, PBS NewsHour will produce Race Matters: America in Crisis, a one-hour special anchored by Judy Woodruff. The special will focus on the criminal justice system, economics, education, housing and health care. Correspondents Amna Nawaz, Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Yamiche Alcindor will also appear in the special.

“Frontline: Policing the Police” is a 2016 documentary in which “New Yorker” writer Jelani Cobb examined the Newark, N.J., Police Department. (Image: PBS)

Also Friday, PBS will air Frontline: Policing the Police, a 2016 documentary in which New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb examined the Newark, N.J., Police Department. The documentary was rereleased on YouTube Saturday. Frontline has also released a new podcast in which Cobb discusses how the coronavirus pandemic intersects with the recent protests.

PBS Learning Media will provide additional resource materials about the programs for parents and educators.

“As a media system that serves every person in America, we stand with the Black community, and we stand against racism and hate,” said PBS President Paula Kerger in a news release. “In the coming days and weeks, we will use our national reach and community presence to deepen understanding, foster conversation and enable meaningful change. And we will continue to stand behind our courageous journalists, whose unwavering commitment to speak truth to power is essential to the strength of our democracy.”

PBS also tapped Black Public Media to help curate a collection of programs for broadcast on local stations and for streaming, including works by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Stanley Nelson. As a bookend to the documentaries, Gates and Nelson will offer insights into the current protests.

PBS announced other content initiatives:

Other PBS programs scheduled to reair or available for streaming:

  • Twilight: Los Angeles, a Great Performances special, airs. The 2001 show is Anna Deavere Smith’s one-woman theatrical account of the 1992 Rodney King verdict and the lasting impact of the Los Angeles riots on America’s conscience. 
  • America in Black and Blue 2020 will broadcast June 15. Originally airing in 2016, the program on racial justice and equity will be updated with new reporting from Minneapolis, Georgia, New York City and other cities with support from PBS NewsHour Weekend and Amanpour and Company, among other programs.
  • In association with Black Public Media, PBS will curate a list of Independent Lens films for free streaming, including Always in Season, Charm City, The First Rainbow Coalition and I Am Not Your Negro. Also in the collection is a 2015 documentary about civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. A separate POV program, Whose Streets?, focuses on the protests in Ferguson, Mo., after police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown.
  • The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution by Stanley Nelson will be available for free streaming and will be broadcast on some PBS stations. Several films by Henry Louis Gates Jr. will also be available, including The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Reconstruction: America After The Civil War and Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise.

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