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2023 Black History Month specials on BPR

A light blue, gold, black and brown graphic with the text "PRX and the Smithsonian Present" on the top; a black and brown graphic of a man's head in front of a microphone in the middle, and the text "Black Radio 25th Anniversary" surrounding the image.

This February, join BPR for sound-rich audio documentaries exploring and celebrating the impact of trail-blazing Black radio programmers and stations, and the rich history of the banjo, from its roots in West Africa to Black musicians in the American South.

"Passing the Banjo"
Monday February 6— BPR News

In 2005, Rhiannon Giddens was a recent graduate from Oberlin, not yet sure what she wanted to do with her classical music education. A native of the North Carolina piedmont, she became interested in the African roots of the banjo and found her way to renowned old-time fiddle player Joe Thompson, one of the last musicians to carry on the black string band tradition. BPR's Land Deer partnered with producer Shea Shackelford to capture this session with Thompson and Giddens.

Afropop Worldwide: The Black History of the Banjo

Wednesday February 8th, 9-10 am -- BPR News and BPR Classic

We trace the history of this most American of instruments from its ancestors in West Africa through the Caribbean and American South and into the present, as a new generation of Black women artists reclaim the banjo as their own. Rhiannon Giddens, Bassekou Kouyate, Bela Fleck and more talk claw-hammers, trad jazz, Appalachian folk, African ancestors and the on-going story of American music, which would be woefully incomplete without a Black history of the banjo. Produced by Ben Richmond.

"Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was" 25th Anniversary Edition (Six-Hour Series)

Monday February 13th-Friday February 17th – Noon-1:00 pm (Noon-2:00 pm on Friday) -- BPR News

“Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was” is the story of radio’s role in the 20th century transformation of the African American community. First aired in 1996, the specials were reformatted in 2021. Original host Lou Rawls guides us, with new narration from original producer Jacquie Gales Webb.

Through interviews, historical airchecks, comedy, drama, and music, the series reveals the remarkable correlation between milestones of Black radio programming and African American culture. Among other topics the series explores the role of radio during the great migration of Blacks from the South, trail-blazing Black DJs and stations, and Black radio during the Civil Rights movement.