Posts Tagged ‘history’

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.

They’re the tops!

Sing along to the music of Kentucky’s own 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.

Islands without Cars

Ditch your Dodge for this unique new series

Doesn’t everyone long for a simpler time? Much as we love our smartphones, online streaming, Instagram — and InstaEverything™ — there’s something so very evocative of the image of ourselves immersed in a life unplugged and unencumbered by a car.

And so it is in Islands without Cars with Kira Hesser, which takes a rare and whimsical look at life without cars, buses, or trains. The series airs Thursdays at 10:30/9:30 pm on KET2 and Sundays at 11:30/10:30 pm on KET.

On small, remote, and sparsely populated isles scattered throughout Europe, most of the inhabitants travel and transport goods by donkey, bicycle, and other non-motorized vehicles. It may seem like a bygone era, but for some, it is a modern reality.

Hesser, who calls herself an independent traveler with a love of history, is our youthful and energetic host and tackles the trip with enthusiasm, taking us to the remote islands of Hydra in Greece; Sark, the Channel Islands; Inis Meain in Ireland; Italy’s Aeolians, Zlarin and Krapanj in Croatia; and France’s Porquerroles.

First up is Italy’s Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago renowned for perfect weather, beautiful scenery, deep caverns, blue grottoes, steep cliffs, ancient ruins, thermal healing resorts, and volcanoes — including one of the most active on the planet, erupting almost continuously for the last 2,000 years!

Next it’s off to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, dotted with over a thousand unique and beautiful islands. Zlarin is known for its beautiful coral, and the even smaller island of Krapanj is celebrated for its history of sponge harvesting. You’ll also visit  the car-free medieval walled old-town section of Dubrovnik.

On Sark, a ruggedly beautiful island in the English Channel, live 600 people on the last feudal state in the western world. On this trip you’ll see the single-cell jail for drunkards, demonstrations in pottery-making, chocolate-mixing, carriage driving, and cave exploring — and meet a rocking horse carver, a water colorist, and a hotel operator straight out of Fawlty Towers.

And from there it’s on to Ireland’s Inis Meain. According to legend, in the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, the fanatical Protestant “Lord Protector” of England, gave the Irish Catholics a choice: they could go to hell or go to Connacht. Some went further still  — all the way to three ruggedly beautiful islands off of Ireland’s west coast.

“The Greek Island of Hydra” is an exploration into the lives of American and British ex-patriot writers and artists who have responded to the Siren’s call and reinvented their lives on this tiny, preserved architectural and historical landmark — which also happens to be the only developed Greek island without cars.

Our last stop takes us to France and the island of Porquerolles, which is dotted with five small ranges of hills, lined with cliffs and beaches, and renowned for the best weather in France with 275 sunny days per year.

Have you ever been to one of these otherworldly places — or anywhere just as far from the ordinary? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to tune in for this unique series.

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