Black History Month – Groundbreakers, Pioneers and Trailblazers

Black History Month – Groundbreakers, Pioneers and Trailblazers

As we approach Black History Month, we are highlighting specials that feature Black voices and stories. Stream the shows below to celebrate the lives and careers of individuals who changed their industry in the face of racial prejudice, many as the first black man or woman in their positions. From entertainment to sports to politics, witness their triumph as they prove to be masters in their craft all while breaking down racial barriers and paving the way for others to follow.


American Masters: Roberta Flack

Follow music icon Roberta Flack from a piano lounge through her rise to stardom. From “The 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. Watch it now with Passport: https://video.thinktv.org/video/roberta-flack-mnv48o/.


Richard Pryor: Icon

Meet Richard Pryor, one of the first black men ever on television. He pioneered a new brand of humor and he was a hit. This show defines his lasting impact on comedy and culture, often in his own words, showing us why he is an icon. Watch it now with Passport: https://video.thinktv.org/video/richard-pryor-icon-full-episode/.


Report From Santa Fe: Isabel Wilkerson

Tune in for a conversation with Isabel Wilkerson, author of the award-winning book “The Warmth of Other Suns – the Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” Wilkerson was the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism and the first Black American to win for individual reporting: https://video.thinktv.org/video/isabel-wilkerson-2lsfsz/.


Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race

Thirty-five years before Barack Obama’s election as President, the question of race and the possibility of bridging racial barriers were put to the test in an overlooked story in American politics: Tom Bradley’s 1973 election as Mayor of Los Angeles: The first African American mayor of a major U.S. city elected with an overwhelmingly white majority. Watch it now with Passport: https://video.thinktv.org/video/bridging-divide-tom-bradley-and-politics-race-full-episode/.


Firing Line: Misty Copeland

Sit down with Misty Copeland as she discusses becoming American Ballet Theatre’s first Black principal dancer and the role her mentor, trailblazing Black ballerina Raven Wilkinson, played in her rise. Copeland weighs in on diversity in ballet, motherhood and her future: https://video.thinktv.org/video/misty-copeland-qmtgh6/.


The A List with Alison Lebovitz: Napoleon “Donut” Williams

Get to know Napoleon “Donut” Williams, the first African-American detective, among other accomplishments, in the Chattanooga Police Department. But his areas of expertise reach beyond just police work, into so many areas of Chattanooga’s history: https://video.thinktv.org/video/napoleon-donut-williams-9ehelc/.


Colorado Experience: Fannie Mae Duncan

Learn how Fannie Mae Duncan brought the motto “Everybody Welcome” to true meaning at her Colorado Springs Cotton Club from 1948 to 1975, despite the volatile Civil Rights Movement of the day. The granddaughter of slaves and the daughter of tenant farmers, Fannie Mae stood for harmony and maintained the first racially integrated club in the city: https://video.thinktv.org/video/fannie-mae-duncan-ruz2sw/.


Black Issues Forum: Breaking Ground as a Black Quarterback

In 1964, Jimmy Raye left Fayetteville to enroll at Michigan State University. Little did he know that while he was there, he would become a trailblazer helping to change the game of college football forever. His story is captured in the book, “Raye of Light” by Tom Shanahan, and includes insight into the integration of college football and the role of the Michigan State Spartans in it: https://video.thinktv.org/video/black-issues-forum-breaking-ground-black-quarterback/.


The Chavis Chronicles: Michael S. Regan

Meet Michael Regan, the first African American man ever to hold the position of EPA administrator. In this episode, Regan discusses his love of nature, the devastating impact of global warming and the struggle for environmental equality in minority communities: https://video.thinktv.org/video/michael-s-regan-nUiGSD/.


Queen of Swing

Explore the true story of a Jazz Age trailblazer — 95-year-old entertainer Norma Miller. The engaging biography highlights the life, career and indomitable spirit of the Harlem-born actress, dancer and choreographer known as “The Queen of Swing.” Discovered at the age of 12, Miller’s show business career has spanned seven decades (and counting). Watch it now on Passport: https://video.thinktv.org/video/queen-of-swing-S2OVbA/.


Firing Line: Wes Moore

Learn about the life of rising Democratic star and political newcomer Gov. Wes Moore as he discusses overcoming tragedy to become a Rhodes Scholar, Army captain, bestselling author and Maryland’s first Black governor. He details his plans for tackling poverty and crime:
https://video.thinktv.org/video/wes-moore-p7jywt/.


Kentucky to the World: Dana Canedy

Meet Dana Canedy, senior vice president and publisher of Simon and Schuster, the first African American to lead a top U.S. publishing imprint. She speaks with Richard Green, former editor of the Courier Journal, about her career and growing up in Kentucky: https://video.thinktv.org/video/dana-canedy-xvaqb5/.


Baseball’s Been Very, Very Good to Me: Minnie Minoso Story

Take a look into a profile of White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, who in 1951 became Chicago’s first black major league baseball player, later becoming the first black Latin American baseball star. Minoso’s story is told through rare interviews with Chicago luminaries, friends, admirers and never-before-seen footage of Minoso himself, shot by producer Tom Weinberg over the course of almost 40 years: https://video.thinktv.org/video/wttw-documentaries-baseballs-been-very-very-good-me-minnie-minoso-story/.


To Dine for with Kate Sullivan: Fawn Weaver

Meet Fawn Weaver, the CEO and Founder of Grant Sidney and Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey and the first African-American woman to lead a major spirits brand that is also the only American spirits brand with an all-female executive team. At her favorite steakhouse, Bourbon Steak in Nashville, Fawn shares her roller-coaster ride to make history and create opportunities for thousands of others: https://video.thinktv.org/video/fawn-weaver-founder-and-ceo-of-uncle-nearest-FNmeIA/.


Nebraska Public Media Originals: Beyond The Baton

Watch the television biography of conductor Thomas Wilkins, music director of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra and the first African American in the history of the Boston Symphony to hold a conducting position. Wilkins celebrates the 100th birthday of the Omaha Symphony with a powerful concert where “music still flourishes & beauty gets to have the last word even during a pandemic: https://video.thinktv.org/video/beyond-the-baton-fsfexq/.