Television barely dips a toe into the breadth and depth of black experience, so some amends are made in February in honor of Black History Month.
Broadcast networks tend to leave the job to local stations, but many cable channels make an effort to explore black life, issues and history.
Nick at Night is getting into the act each Friday with classic sitcom episodes focusing on racial attitudes. Next Friday, part of a Black History Month Marathon (beginning at 10 p.m. that day), theres an "All in the Family" episode in which Sammy Davis Jr. and Archie Bunker collide.
Another worthy rerun is Odyssey Networks showing of the 1970s miniseries "Roots," Sunday through Friday, Feb. 4-9 (check listings).
Court TV is recognizing black contributions to the legal profession with individual tributes sandwiched between its programming throughout the month.
"From Swastika to Jim Crow," 10 p.m. Thursday on PBS. The documentary tells the story of German Jewish professors who were expelled by the Nazis and found new careers and relationships at black colleges in the South.
"Homes of Our Heritage: African-American Visionaries," Feb. 3, Home & Garden Television (check listings). The homes of such notable figures as Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr. are featured.
"Dancing in September," Feb. 3, HBO. A writer (Nicole Ari Parker) manages to sell a TV sitcom that honestly depicts black life, then finds her integrity tested by network demands.
"Bojangles," Feb. 4, Showtime. Actor-dancer Gregory Hines stars as the legendary Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who was a rare black solo performer in vaudeville and on Broadway and extended his reach into radio and film.
"Modern Masters: African-American Artisans," Feb. 5, Home & Garden Television. Artists share their work and what inspires them.
"Goin to Chicago," Feb. 8, PBS. The documentary examines the internal U.S. migration that carried many blacks from the South to the North.
Showtime Black Filmmaker Showcase, Feb. 14. The program includes four finalists for a Showtime Networks grant and concludes with the winning short film, director Anna Dudleys "Special Day," the story of a family caught up in the burgeoning civil rights movement.
"They Call Me Sirr," Feb. 18, Showtime. Kente Scott and Michael Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile") star in a drama chronicling the high school years of National Football League player Sirr Parker and his struggle to excel in sports while raising his young brother alone.
"Crossing the Bridge," Feb. 24, History Channel. The documentary details the March 1965 day when state police clashed with civil rights marchers attempting to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala., and turned the small town into a symbol of oppression.
"Boycott," Feb. 24, HBO. The film dramatizes the pivotal moment in civil rights history in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in a "whites only" section of a Montgomery, Ala., bus. Real footage is woven into the drama.
"Black Aviators: Flying Free," March 3, History Channel. The documentary recounts the lives of such aviation pioneers as Eugene Bullard, who joined the French Air Service during World War I and was awarded Frances highest honor, and Bessie Coleman, who trained to fly abroad and returned to America to open a flight school.
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