Airs Monday, February 3 at 8 p.m. 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.
Airs Sunday, February 24 at 6 p.m. "Say It Loud" traces the last 50 years of black history through stirring, historically important speeches by African Americans from across the political spectrum. With recordings unearthed from libraries and sound archives, and made widely available here for the first time, "Say It Loud" includes landmark speeches by Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Louis Gates, and many others.
Airs Thursday, February 21 at 9 p.m. Langston Hughes, an enduring icon of the Harlem Renaissance, is best-known for his written work, which wedded his fierce dedication to social justice with his belief in the transformative power of the word. But he was a music lover, too, and some of the works he was most proud of were collaborations with composers and musicians.
Hosted by Terrance McKnight, WQXR host and former Morehouse professor of music, I, Too, Sing America will dive into the songs, cantatas, musicals and librettos that flowed from Hughes’ pen. As he did with his poetry, Hughes used music to denounce war, combat segregation and restore human dignity in the face of Jim Crow. His musical adventures included writing lyrics for stage pieces such as Black Nativity and Tambourines to Glory, works that helped give birth to the genre of Gospel Play, as well as songs for radio plays and political campaigns, and the libretto for Kurt Weill’s Street Songs.
Airs Tuesday, February 19 at 11:00 a.m. Classical New England from WGBH offers a companion radio program to the 2013 PBS series The Abolitionists: Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Abolitionists. Let Freedom Sing chronicles the idealistic artists, uncompromising personalities and powerful music of the era, and looks at how these forces combined to turn abolitionism from a scorned fringe movement into a nation-changing force. This one-hour special will be hosted by Noah Adams.
“Any good crusade requires singing,” reformers like to say, and in the 19th century, no cause was more righteous than the decades-long crusade to abolish slavery. An original WGBH-Classical New England production hosted by Noah Adams, Let Freedom Sing will profile such powerful figures as Henry Russell, the barnstorming Anglo-Jewish pianist and singer dubbed the master of “chutzpah and huzzah;” the Milford, New Hampshire-based Hutchinson Family Singers, remembered as America’s first protest singers; and abolitionist leader and newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison, whose “Song of the Abolitionist” (set to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne”) literally set the tone for the entire movement. Garrison believed strongly in setting stanzas to familiar melodies—for poetry, he held, was “naturally and instinctively on the side of liberty.”