WHYY Celebrates Black Excellence

From films on renowned visionaries to stories of exceptional, everyday people, WHYY celebrates those who have and continue to shape our Country.

Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band
Thursday, March 21 at 10 p.m.

From jazz to rock and roll, Mary Lou Williams was a leading musical innovator determined to create in a world unable to see past her race or gender.



Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story
Tuesday, April 9th at 11 p.m.

This documentary chronicles the extraordinary life of theologian Howard Thurman, a poet and “mystic” who used religious expression to help ignite sweeping social change.


Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Tuesdays, April 9th and 16th at 8 p.m.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the definitive history of the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself amidst profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change.


BOSS: The Black Experience in Business
Tuesday, April 23 at 10 p.m.

The history of business and entrepreneurship lies at the heart of the American story, but often absent are the names and experiences of African Americans who, from the country’s earliest days, have embodied the qualities of innovation, risk-taking and determination to forge a path toward a better life – which is at the heart of the American entrepreneurial spirit.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
April 2019

The full story of the singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer Maya Angelou, who inspired generations with boundary-pushing African-American thought.

Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart
May 2019

Explore the life of activist, playwright and A Raisin in the Sun author, Lorraine Hansberry.

QUEST: A Portrait of an American Family
June 2019

An intimate film capturing ten years in the life of a black family from Philadelphia.

T-Rex: Her Fight for Gold
July 2019

Boxing phenom Claressa “T-Rex” Shields won an Olympic medal in 2012 but quickly learns that in Flint, Michigan, a gold medal does not always make life easier.

I Am Not Your Negro
August 2019

This moving film envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House.

All the Difference
September 2019

Follow two African-American teens from Chicago’s South Side as they strive to reach college graduation.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges
October 2019

The role that historically black colleges and universities played in shaping black life, creating a black middle class and dismantling segregation cannot be overstated.

John Lewis: Get In the Way
November 2019

John Lewis rose from Alabama’s Black Belt to the corridors of Capitol Hill, his origins forever linking him to those who customarily go unheard.

Whose Streets?
December 2019

When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of the St. Louis area and beyond. Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson, Missouri uprising. As the national guard rolls in, a new generation mounts a powerful battle cry not just for their civil rights, but for the right to live.

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