Black History Month Specials

Various Times

Join us as we celebrate the incredible achievements and contributions in the arts, literature, sciences, and humanities that African Americans have achieved through the centuries.

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.

Metropolitan Museum, NY
Artist unknown / This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.

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.”

Airs Sunday, February 17 at 6:00 p.m. This hour-long Black History Month radio program features milestone conversations with Maya Angelou and lauded African Americans who tell the stories of a culture through the the entertainment industry, award-winning music, opportunities for philanthropy and the pursuit of peace. Join a Grammy, Emmy, Academy Award, Golden Globe and Nobel Prize winning group of voices with the poetic, historical commentary of Maya Angelou. 

Airs Saturday, February 16 at 9 p.m.  Despite disability, poverty, isolation and prejudice, a surprising number of blind African American musicians who came from the gospel tradition influenced not just gospel music, but blues, bluegrass, and American vernacular music up to and beyond rock and roll. Using narrative, archival audio, interviews, scholarly commentary and music, Heavenly Sight tells this little known story through broadcast and a comprehensive, interactive web site.

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