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Black History Month At The Museum of Television & Radio

Friday, January 31, 2003

Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY—The Museum of Television & Radio celebrates Black History Month with two programs directed by renowned filmmaker Spike Lee. Throughout February the Museum in New York and Los Angeles will screen the Peabody Award-winning program A Huey P. Newton Story, featuring a bravura performance by Roger Guenveur Smith, and Lee's student film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, which aired on public television. In addition to scheduled screenings, visitors may choose from a selection of documentaries, children's programs, dramas, and news coverage that chronicle both the history and artistry of African-Americans and can view them at a private console. 

Television has been a vital medium for documenting key moments in black history and culture from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech during the 1963 March on Washington and Alex Haley's 1977 miniseries Roots to Court TV's televising of the trial of the New York City policemen accused of killing Amadou Diallo in 2000. Through films, documentaries, and news coverage, television has depicted the injustices of slavery and Jim Crow laws, and celebrated the accomplishments of black Americans during such periods as the Harlem Renaissance and the birth of black power consciousness in the late 1960s.

A Spotlight on Spike Lee

A Huey P. Newton Story
Screening in New York Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 12:15 p.m.
Screening in Los Angeles Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 12:15 p.m.

Spike Lee directs this television adaptation of Roger Guenveur Smith's off-Broadway solo performance that explores the philosophy and history of Black Panther party leader Huey P. Newton. Written by and starring Smith in the title role, the program features a live audience and Lee's signature mix of film and archival footage, lending it the feel of both a stage performance and a documentary. Roger Guenveur Smith brings the Panther party leader's complex ideas and high-strung personality to life, nervously inhaling an endless supply of Kool cigarettes and easily rattling off Newton's philosophy and the ten-point program of social and political demands with lightning speed. A Huey P. Newton Story is the seventh collaboration between Lee and Smith, and the team received a 2002 Peabody Award for their efforts. (2001; 90 minutes) 

Independent Focus: Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads
Screening in New York Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 12:15 p.m.
Screening in Los Angeles Thursdays,and Sundays at 12:15 p.m.

Written and directed by Spike Lee as his New York University thesis film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop was broadcast on a PBS series spotlighting independent filmmakers. Set in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, this powerful drama depicts a man torn by the realities of his life-a flagging barbershop business; the lure of the numbers game; and the dreams of his wife, a social worker tired of the poverty and crime around her. The program depicts the often impossible attempts of urban inner-city dwellers to break from a cycle of poverty. (1984; 60 minutes)

Selections Available For Console Viewing

We All Have Tales: Koi and the Kola Nuts
Whoopi Goldberg tells this African folktale in which Koi, the son of a chief, inherits only a single kola tree when his father dies. Offended at his small inheritance, he sets off into the jungle, looking for a village where people know how to treat the son of a chief.  Music composed and produced by Herbie Hancock. (1991; 25 minutes)                         

The Wonderful World of Disney: Selma, Lord Selma
Based on a true story by Sheyanne Webb and Rachel West, two of the youngest recruits in the civil rights movement, this fictional account tells the story of how the two young school girls were inspired by the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. Along with a young white seminary student from the North, Webb and West join their community in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. (1999; 90 minutes)

Art Blakey:  The Jazz Messenger
Art Blakey took pride in the fact that jazz was the only art created in America and that it originated in black culture. This British documentary highlights Blakey's continuing efforts to spread his love of jazz, particularly to young black artists and listeners around the globe, through his band the Jazz Messengers. Musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Watson, Benny Golson, and Wynton Marsalis, among many others, talk about Blakey's influence. Blakey himself is seen playing and talking about jazz. (1987; 80 minutes)

The American Experience:  Malcolm X:  Make It Plain
This documentary, by filmmaker Orlando Bagwell, explores the life of black leader Malcolm X.  The film explores Malcolm's childhood, prison years, conversion to Islam, marriage, activism, and his ultimate spilt with the Nation of Islam. Interviews with other black leaders and friends such as Maya Angelou, Alex Haley, Sonia Sanchez, and Gordon Parks as well as his wife Betty Shabazz complete the portrait. (1994; 150 minutes)

Ailey Dances
One of America's most important choreographers, Alvin Ailey revolutionized dance by infusing the formal discipline of classical ballet with the vibrant rhythms and cadences of African-American music and dance traditions. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performs the dances Night Creature, Cry, The Lark Ascending, and Revelations, with introductions by former Ailey dancer Judith Jamison. (1983; 90 minutes)

A Different World: "Mammy Dearest"
In this episode of the critically acclaimed and popular comedy series, produced and directed by Debbie Allen, the students are planning a performance celebrating African-American history and are forced to find a way to deal with some unsettling aspects of that history. (1991; 30 minutes)

South Central: "Co-op"
In this hard-hitting comedy/drama series, an African-American family struggles with the stark realities of life in South Central Los Angeles. This episode finds Joan Mosley having to put up with her boss's use of questionable tactics to stay in business, while at home, Tasha is having her own difficulties watching the family's foster child. CCH Pounder guest stars.  (1994; 25 minutes)

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Piano Lesson
This film adaptation of playwright August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Piano Lesson, centers on a family heirloom¾a beautifully carved piano heavy with the weight of the family's slave history. Afre Woodard stars as Berneice, who is intent on keeping the piano and remembering the history that it holds, and her brother, who wants to sell it so he can buy a piece of land. (1995; 110 minutes)

CBS Special Report: March on Washington
Roger Mudd reports live from Washington, D.C., on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  This segment of the coverage includes Martin Luther King Jr.'s celebrated "I Have a Dream" speech.  (1963; 65 minutes) 

CBS Reports: Who Speaks for Birmingham
Who Speaks for Birmingham
, broadcast during the tumultuous rise in visibility of the civil rights movement in the media, reported on the racial divide between the white and black communities of Birmingham, Alabama. Residents testify to their conflicted feelings about how racial integration will effect their lives, with very differing portraits offered from both the white and black community. Although Howard K. Smith reports for this program, an uncredited Edward R. Murrow developed the topic and got it approved by CBS management. (1961; 55 minutes)

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public. Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its collection of more than 120,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. In 2001 the Museum initiated a process to acquire Internet programming for the collection. Programs in the Museum's permanent collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m., until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays, and Friday evenings until 9:00 p.m. (theaters only). The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. and until 9:00 p.m. on Thursdays. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000. Visit the Museum's website at