Explore African American history

Programs recognize the achievements of black Americans

Learning comes to life on KET during Black History Month, or National African American History Month. The annual celebration of achievements by black Americans recognizes the central role of African Americans in U.S. history; learn more by tuning in to these programs in February.

African American Museum
KET2 Sunday, Feb. 5 • 10/9 pm

Go inside this remarkable new Smithsonian museum to see items from its collection — like Michael Jackson’s performance wear and James Baldwin’s passport — and learn about the building itself, with its design invoking the craft of cast iron created by black craftspeople and wooden Nigerian sculptures.

The Girls in the Band
KET Monday, Feb. 6 • 9/8 pm
KET2 Sunday, Feb. 12 • 8/7 pm

Learn the poignant, inspiring, yet often unknown stories of female jazz artists and big band instrumentalists from the late 1930s to the present day. These highly skilled women endured decades of sexism, racism, and diminished opportunities to succeed in a field that seldom welcomed them.

Independent Lens: Birth of a Movement
KET Monday, Feb. 6 • 10/9 pm

Learn how D.W. Griffith’s 1915 The Birth of a Nation unleashed a battle still waging today about race relations and representation, and the power and influence of Hollywood. Featuring Spike Lee, Reginald Hudlin, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and others.

The Talk: Race in America
KET Monday, Feb. 20 • 9/8 pm

In the wake of tragic and fatal events between men of color and law enforcement, an increasingly necessary conversation is taking place among black and Latino families as parents counsel their kids to stay safe if they are stopped by the police. Called “The Talk,” it contains phrases like “always answer ‘yes sir, no sir,’ “never talk back” — and “If you think you are falsely accused, save it for the police station. I would rather pick you up at the station than the morgue…”

The Mayor: The Age of Riley
KET2: Monday, Feb. 20 • 10/9 pm

For 40 years, Charleston’s mayor worked for equality. Then, in the final months of his service, he faced his worst nightmare: the tragic massacre of nine African Americans by a young white supremacist in the oldest African Methodist Episcopalian church in America.

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Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
KET Tuesday, Feb. 21 • 8/7 pm
KET2 Sunday, Feb. 26 • 9/8 pm

This American Masters documentary is the first about the incomparable author (1928-2014), best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” she gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before.

Black Guides of Mammoth Cave
KET2 Sunday, Feb. 26 • 8/7 pm

The story of a generation of African American guides who first discovered and then created their livelihoods around Mammoth Cave.

Africa’s Great Civilizations
KET Monday-Wednesday, Feb. 27-March 1 • 9/8 pm

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. travels throughout the vast continent of Africa to discover the true majesty of its greatest civilizations and kingdoms. Traversing the dawn of mankind to the dawn of the 20th century, the series is a universal and personal journey that explores culture and art

Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP
KET2: Monday, Feb. 27 • 10/9 pm

Rare archival film and extraordinary interviews are used to chart Marshall’s life (1908-1993) in the years leading up to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.

’Tis the season!

New specials, old favorites help make your holidays bright

Christmas on the Danube
KET2 Friday, Dec. 16 • 6:30/5:30 pm
KET2 Saturday, Dec. 24 • 1 pm/noon

The cities of the Danube are particularly spectacular at Christmas. Follow the river from Budapest, Hungary, to Passau, Germany, to learn these cities’ histories, see their major sights, and visit their Christmas Markets.

Mr. Stink
KET2 Sunday, Dec. 18 • 6/5 pm
KET2 Sunday, Dec. 25 • 10/9 am
A girl befriends an unusual tramp and learns that there is more to him than meets the eye — or nose. Based on David Williams’ bestselling book.

Happy Holidays with the Boston Pops
KET2 Sunday, Dec. 18 • 9/8 pm
KET Saturday, Dec. 24 • 9/8 pm

Celebrate the New England holiday season with the Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus, which includes performances by bass-baritone Justin Hopkins and country star Sara Evans. Also featured is Broadway, film, and TV star Robert Morse — Mad Men’s Bert Cooper — who demonstrated his song-and-dance chops in his unforgettable exit from the series in 2015.

Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
KET Monday, Dec. 19 • 9/8 pm

Broadway star Laura Osnes and acclaimed British screen and voice actor Martin Jarvis join the choir and orchestra at Temple Square for an unforgettable Christmas concert. Metropolitan Opera soloists join the award-winning all-volunteer choir, made up of 360 men and women, and its 150-member orchestra.

A Chef’s Life Holiday Special
KET2 Tuesday, Dec. 20 • 7/6 pm
KET Saturday, Dec. 24 • 2/1 pm

Chef Vivian Howard serves up the best of her Southern cooking heritage and the Chanukah traditions her husband Ben grew up with. Sample simple corned ham, an upscale oyster dressing, humble Hoppin’ John, and an elegant red velvet cake for a charming and delicious holiday special.

Jordan Smith ’Tis the Season
KET Saturday, Dec. 24 • 8/7 pm

Kentucky’s own Jordan Smith skyrocketed to national fame by winning The Voice competition in 2015 — and becoming its biggest selling artist to date. Now, join the pride of Harlan in his own holiday special featuring music from his new Christmas album, ’Tis the Season, with special guest David Foster.

Joshua Bell Presents Musical Gifts
KET2 Wednesday, Dec. 21 • 10/9 pm

The world-renowned violinist performs an intimate holiday concert in his Manhattan residence featuring “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” with opera star Renee Fleming, “The Secret of Christmas” with Michael Feinstein, “Silent Night” by the Young People’s Chorus of New York, and more.

Holidays at Murray State 2016
KET Saturday, Dec. 24 • 10/9 pm

The Murray State University Concert Choir, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra, and featured soloists highlight this annual holiday special.

Christmas at Belmont
KET Saturday, Dec. 24 • 11/10 pm

Join host Kathy Mattea and nearly 700 student musicians, Belmont School of Music faculty, and Nashville Children’s Choir for traditional carols, classical masterworks, world music, and lighthearted seasonal favorites.

Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir
KET Saturday, Dec. 24 • midnight/11 pm

This concert pairs the acclaimed mixed-voice choir from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., with the Nidaros Cathedral Girl Choir. The program was recorded in one of the oldest gothic cathedrals in the world, and its stunning acoustics complement the distinctive style of a capella singing for which the St. Olaf Choir is well known.

Rick Steves Special: European Christmas
KET Sunday, Dec. 25 • noon/11 am

From manger scenes and mistletoe to wintry wonderlands, Rick celebrates the Christmas season in England, France, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy to reveal their customs and practices of the holiday season.

They’re the tops!

Sing along to the music of Kentucky’s own Hilltoppers

hilltoppers

In the 1950s, The Hilltoppers was one of America’s most popular singing groups. Their romantic love songs, beautiful harmonies, and youthful enthusiasm captured the hearts of fans around the world, Over the course of their career they had 21 songs in the Top 40, musically and culturally bridging a time between the Big Band sound and the arrival of rock ’n’ roll.

The KET documentary The Hilltoppers tells their remarkable story and showcases some of the great music that made the group a popular sensation. It premieres Monday, Oct. 24 at 9/8 pm on KET.

The group was made up of four young men who met at Western Kentucky University — Billy Vaughn and Don McGuire were from Kentucky, Jimmy Sacca and Seymour Spiegelman of New York. The group took its name from Western’s athletic teams nickname (and the group wore beanies and Western letter sweaters in many of their performances).

A demo they recorded on campus of a song Vaughn had written called “Trying” came to the attention of Randy Wood, who had a small record label called Dot Records.  It quickly become a smash hit, and the next thing the group knew they were singing for a national audience on Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town. Life had changed forever for these four college students.

KET interviewed the only living original member of the group — Don McGuire, who now lives in Lexington — as well as Ann Sacca, the widow of the lead singer and one of Sacca’s sons.

Also featured are Kentucky writer Bobbie Ann Mason, who founded The Hilltoppers fan club, and Ed McClanahan, another prominent Kentucky writer whose life and work was influenced by the group.

The program features footage of The Hilltoppers performing on popular TV variety shows of the time, along with home movies, family photos, and rare unreleased songs.


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