Skip to content

Black History Month

Year-round, NMPBS presents a cross-section of stories exploring the lives, culture and history of African Americans. In celebration of Black History Month, NMPBS highlights new programs, series and special encores below.

Popular Series

Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World

Chuck D of Public Enemy explores Hip Hop’s political awakening over the last 50 years. With a host of rap stars and cultural commentators he tracks Hip Hop’s socially conscious roots.

Finding Your Roots

Renowned scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. returns for a new season. Using genealogical detective work and cutting-edge DNA analysis, Gates guides twenty-one influential guests deep into the branches of their family trees, revealing surprising stories of forgotten ancestors that transcend borders, illuminating an American root system fortified by its diversity.

PBS Passport compass

Ken Burns' Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali brings to life one of the most indelible figures of the 20th century, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who captivated millions of fans across the world with his mesmerizing combination of speed, grace, and power in the ring, and charm and playful boasting outside of it.

PBS Passport compass

Making Black America: Through The Grapevine

A four-part series hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., that chronicles the vast social networks and organizations created by and for Black people—beyond the reach of the “White gaze.” Professor Gates sits with noted scholars, politicians, cultural leaders, and old friends to discuss this world behind the color line and what it looks like today.

PBS Passport compass

The Long Song

In early 1800s Jamaica, Caroline adopts the child slave July as her maid. July grows up to witness the Christmas Rebellion and the radical transformation of her world.

PBS Passport compass

THE BLACK CHURCH: This is Our Story, This is Our Song

Retrace the 400-year-old-story of the Black church in America with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., exploring its role as the site of African American organizing, resilience, autonomy, freedom and solidarity.

PBS Passport compass

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

This series executive produced and hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., explores the Reconstruction era and its aftermath, beginning with the hopeful moment of the Civil War’s end and emancipation in 1865, carrying through to 1915, when the nation was fully entrenched in Jim Crow segregation.

Our Time

Despite deep polarization in the U.S., young people are making their voices and values heard. From the thousands of students transformed by recent school shootings to those pushing the legislative needle on political reform, young Americans are articulating a proactive vision for their futures. Our Time is a series produced by youth in partnership with professional documentary filmmakers.

Programs and Specials

America ReFramed "Big Chief, Black Hawk"

Big Chief Tee is a high school senior and the youngest Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief in New Orleans. During COVID-19, he and the Black Hawk Hunters navigate the impacts of gentrification and systemic racism on their annual masking tradition. Through haute couture, movement, and words, BIG CHIEF, BLACK HAWK celebrates the beauty and resilience of “the culture” even in the face of crisis and change.

PBS Passport compass

Black Broadway: A Proud History, A Limitless Future

Discover the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey whose dances center on the Black American experience with grace, strength and beauty. Featuring previously unheard audio interviews with Ailey, interviews with those close to him and an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today.

Great Performances “The Magic of Spirituals"

Glimpse behind the curtain at opera legends Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman’s famed concert at Carnegie Hall on March 18, 1990, featuring performance clips and new interviews with opera star Angel Blue, Met Opera General Manager Peter Gelb and more.

Independent Lens “Outta the Muck"

Wade into the rich soil of Pahokee, Florida, a town on the banks of Lake Okeechobee. Beyond its football legacy, including sending over a dozen players to the NFL (like Anquan Boldin, Fred Taylor, and Rickey Jackson), the fiercely self-determined community tells their stories of Black achievement and resilience in the face of tragic storms and personal trauma.

NOVA “Star Chasers of Senegal"

A NASA spacecraft named Lucy blasts off from Cape Canaveral on a mission to the Trojans, a group of asteroids over 400 million miles from Earth thought to hold important clues about the origins of our solar system. Just hours before, in Senegal, West Africa, a team of scientists sets out to capture extraordinarily precise observations vital to the success of the Lucy mission.

Independent Lens “The Picture Taker"

The vibrant life of Ernest Withers—civil rights photographer, and FBI informant—was anything but black and white. From his Memphis studio, Withers' nearly 2 million images were a treasured record of Black history but his legacy was complicated by decades of secret FBI service revealed only after his death. Was he a friend of the civil rights community, or enemy—or both?

American Masters “How It Feels To Be Free”

A documentary that tells the inspiring story of how six iconic African American women entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.

Independent Lens “The Big Payback”

An Evanston, Illinois rookie alderwoman led the passage of the first tax-funded reparations bill for Black Americans. While she and her community struggle with the burden to make restitution for its citizens, a national racial crisis engulfs the country. Will the debt ever be addressed, or is it too late for a reparations movement to finally get the big payback?

Next at the Kennedy Center “The Roots Residency”

Hip Hop legends The Roots give an electrifying performance during their residency at the Kennedy Center. Beyond the stage, the band endeavors to inspire others and explore the depths of their creative potential.

Becoming Frederick Douglass

Discover how a man born into slavery became one of the most influential voices for democracy in American history. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson explores the role Douglass played in securing the right to freedom for African Americans.

Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom

Go beyond the legend and meet the inspiring woman who repeatedly risked her own life and freedom to liberate others from slavery. Born 200 years ago in Maryland, Harriet Tubman was a conductor of the Underground Railroad, a Civil War scout, nurse and spy, and one of the greatest freedom fighters in our nation’s history.

PBS Passport compass

American Masters "Ailey"

Discover the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey whose dances center on the Black American experience with grace, strength and beauty. Featuring previously unheard audio interviews with Ailey, interviews with those close to him and an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today.

American Masters “Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands”

Discover an international singer who captivated royalty in Europe and defied the conscience of 1939 America. Watch rare archival footage and hear audio recordings exploring her life and career from the Metropolitan Opera to the State Department.

American Masters "Roberta Flack"

American Masters: Roberta Flack follows the music icon from a piano lounge through her rise to stardom. From “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” to “Killing Me Softly,” Flack’s virtuosity was inseparable from her commitment to civil rights. Detailing her story in her own words, the film features exclusive access to Flack’s archives and interviews with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Peabo Bryson and more.

PBS Passport compass

Sam Cooke: Legend

This Grammy-winning film documents the rise of soul music legend Sam Cooke, from his beginnings as a gospel singer to his crossover to the pop and R&B charts. An exploration of more than just his music alone, the biography also looks at Cooke’s personal life and his role as a civil rights activist.

PBS Passport compass

Independent Lens "Owned: A Tale of Two Americas"

Is the "American Dream" of home ownership a false promise? While the government’s postwar housing policy created the world’s largest middle class, it also set America on two divergent paths – one of perceived wealth and the other of systematically defunded, segregated communities.

PBS Passport compass

In Their Own Words: Chuck Berry

Take a riveting ride on the Chuck Berry train exploring the life, the legend, the music, and the man who is regularly credited as the father of rock and roll. We will meet the family who loved him, the players who were there for the rise, and the stars who bow to his inspiration and credit him for their own success.

American Experience "The Murder of Emmett Till"

The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the Civil Rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.

The 87th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

The 2022 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards honor the work of Percival Everett, Donika Kelly, George Makari, Tiya Miles and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ishmael Reed. The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards is the only national juried prize recognizing literature that has contributed to our understanding of racism and human diversity. Hosted by acclaimed scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

American Experience “The American Diplomat”

Discover how three Black diplomats broke racial barriers at the US State Department during the Cold War. Asked to represent the best of American ideals abroad while facing discrimination at home, they left a lasting impact on the Foreign Service.

Fannie Lou Hammer’s America: An America Reframed Special

Explore and celebrate the life of a fearless Mississippi sharecropper-turned-human-rights activist and the injustices in America that made her work essential.

NOVA "Forgotten Genius"

The grandson of Alabama slaves, Percy Julian met with every possible barrier in a deeply segregated America. He was a man of genius, devotion, and determination. As a black man he was also an outsider, fighting to make a place for himself in a profession and country divided by bigotry—a man who would eventually find freedom in the laboratory.  

PBS Passport compass

Just a Mortal Man: The Jerry Lawson Story

A candid, intimate portrait of the inimitable Jerry Lawson (white shirt, above)—who fronted the greatest a cappella group in history, The Persuasions. Jerry’s incredible talent and innovation in contemporary a cappella music has inspired young vocalists around the globe and brought joy to countless fans. Still, there is much more to this man than his music.

American Experience "Freedom Summer"

Revisit the hot and deadly summer of 1964, when student volunteers and local Black citizens faced racial violence in Mississippi while registering voters in an attempt to break the hold of segregation.

PBS Passport compass

American Masters "Miles Davis"

Discover the man behind the legend. With full access to the Miles Davis Estate, the film features never-before-seen footage, including studio outtakes from his recording sessions, rare photos and new interviews.

American Experience "Freedom Riders"

The story behind a courageous, integrated band of college students called Freedom Riders, who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South. They managed to bring the president and the American public face-to-face with the challenge of correcting civil-rights inequities that plagued the nation.

Fannie Lou Hamer: Stand Up

Civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer is remembered by those who worked side by side with her in the struggle for voting rights. An African-American sharecropper from the Mississippi Delta, Hamer’s difficulty registering to vote in 1962 led to her career as an outspoken activist, congressional candidate, and fierce fighter for the rights of all.

PBS Passport compass

Great Performances: Unforgettable With Love - Natalie Cole

Enjoy this special encore of Natalie Cole’s Emmy-winning concert of her GRAMMY-winning album in Great Performances: Unforgettable With Love - Natalie Cole. Featuring classics such as “Mona Lisa,” “The Very Thought of You” and “For Sentimental Reasons,” the concert also features a special performance of Nat King Cole’s signature song “Unforgettable” sung as a duet by Natalie Cole and her father.

PBS Passport compass

The Central Park Five

This film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles the Central Park jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of the five young men whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice.

PBS Passport compass

American Experience "Voice of Freedom"

Explore the fascinating life of celebrated singer Marian Anderson. On Easter Sun., 1939, Anderson, hailed as a voice that “comes around once in a hundred years” by maestros in Europe, triumphed at the Lincoln Memorial in what became a landmark moment in American history.

PBS Passport compass

American Experience "Goin' Back to T-Town"

Revisit Greenwood, a Black community in Tulsa. Torn apart in 1921 by a racially- motivated massacre, the neighborhood rose again, but could not survive integration and urban renewal. A bittersweet portrait of small-town life told by those who lived it.

Beyond the Baton - A Conductor’s Journey

Born to a single mother on welfare, Thomas Wilkins grew up to become one of the few remarkable African American conductors leading a major orchestra - the celebrated Omaha Symphony. This hour-long film that documents Wilkins' experience as a Black conductor and his larger impact on the musical world.

Driving While Black: Race, Space and Mobility in America

Discover how the advent of the automobile brought new freedoms and new perils for African Americans on the road in this deep look into the dynamics of race, space and mobility in America over time.

American Experience “Riveted: The History of Jeans”

Discover the fascinating and surprising story of this iconic American garment, from its roots in slavery to the Wild West, and beyond. The story of jeans usually begins with Levi Strauss, hut half a century earlier, enslaved people in the American South were wearing a precursor of denim made from a coarse textile known as “slave cloth.”

Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes

An intimate portrait of the quiet genius who speaks with his music, and who brought the upright bass out from the background into the spotlight.

PBS Passport compass

Antiques Roadshow "Celebrating Black Americana"

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW honors Black History Month with the special episode Celebrating Black Americana. Highlights include an 1821 U.S. citizenship certificate for George Barker, a free man of color; an African American beauty book written by Madam C.J. Walker, the first American female millionaire.

Resources and Activities for Teaching Your Children About Black History Month

February is Black History Month — and it’s never too early to begin celebrating and teaching your child about Black leaders of yesterday (and today!). As you begin exploring the Black scientists, politicians, activists, artists, and more who have left their mark on U.S. history, encourage your child’s curiosity about the contributions and accomplishments of Black people.

DISH viewers experiencing audio loss on NMPBS Channels 5 & 9 should contact DISH Customer Support at 1-800-333-3474. We apologize for the inconvenience.