WTTW Programming Addressing Race and Racism

Daniel Hautzinger
Rev. William Barber II calls for justice for Lennon Lacy at a December 2014 rally. Photo: Peter Eversoll
Rev. William Barber II calls for justice for Lennon Lacy at a December 2014 rally, in 'Always in Season.' Photo: Peter Eversoll

WTTW will broadcast and make available to stream a series of films and new specials focused on race in America following the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the ensuing protests that erupted across the country.

Find details below, and check back for updates.

Juneteenth Jamboree

Friday, June 19 at 8:30 pm and available to stream

Juneteenth Jamboree illuminates the significance of the Juneteenth holiday and shares stories about black culture and history. Join us for a look back at some of our highlights from past episodes.

Independent Lens: The First Rainbow Coalition

Available to stream

In the late 1960s, the young Black Panther leader Fred Hampton brokered an alliance between the Panthers, Puerto Rican Young Lords, and poor white Appalachian Young Patriots in Chicago to organize against poverty and lack of services. The alliance became known as the Rainbow Coalition. Hampton's life was cut short when he, along with another Panther, was killed by police in a raid on their home.

'63 Boycott

Available to stream

In 1963, 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. This documentary from Kartemquin Films connects the forgotten story of one of the largest Northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, and youth activism.

Independent Lens: The Black Panthers – Vanguard of the Revolution

Available to stream

Acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s The Black Panthers – Vanguard of the Revolution  sheds light on the Black Panther Party — and all its reviled, adored, misunderstood, and mythologized history.

John Lewis – Get in the Way

Available to stream

Follow the courageous journey of John Lewis, from his youth in the segregated South, through his leadership within the Civil Rights movement, to his current role as a powerful voice in Congress.

America in Black and Blue 2020

Available to stream

This new special, an update of the original America in Black and Blue from 2016, will report from across the country, and include interviews with key leaders and participants in the struggle for racial justice, accountability and equity, as well as voices from law enforcement.

Peace & Justice: A WTTW News Special

Available to stream

This WTTW News special will focus on the frustration pouring out onto Chicago streets, outrage about police brutality, America’s deep systemic racial disparities, and possible solutions for helping our communities heal. It will be followed by an online conversation and community discussion at 8:00 pm.

Frontline: Policing the Police

Available to stream

New Yorker writer and historian Jelani Cobb examines allegations of abuses within the Newark Police Department and the challenge of fixing its broken relationship with the community.

Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise

Available to stream

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores the last fifty years of African American history and activism, and continuing successes and failures.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War

Available to stream

In this recent four-part series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. examines a period of American history that is all too often misunderstood and misrepresented.

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

Available to stream

This series from Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. chronicles the full sweep of African American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent right up to today.

Independent Lens: Charm City

Available to stream

In Baltimore, the murder rate is high and trust in law enforcement is low—meet the engaged citizens reversing those trends in Charm City.

Race Matters – America in Crisis: A PBS NewsHour Special

Available to stream

This new one-hour special from PBS NewsHour will focus on the frustration pouring out onto American streets, outrage about police brutality, and America’s deep systemic racial disparities in the economy, education, criminal justice system, and health care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will also include grassroots voices from around the country and roundtable conversations with thought leaders and other newsmakers.

Independent Lens: Tell Them We Are Rising

Available to stream

Stanley Nelson's documentary explores the essential role historically black colleges and universities have played in shaping black life, creating a black middle class and dismantling segregation. 

The Talk: Race in America

Available to stream

This documentary from 2017 tells six stories of struggle between people of color and law enforcement in America. It chronicles how families of color attempt to protect their children with “The Talk,” about what to do and how to react if they are stopped by police.

Great Performances – Twilight: Los Angeles

Available to stream

Find short-form digital videos tackling race, civil rights, and the American justice system in this playlist from PBS Digital Studios.

And for some reading about events in Chicago history that might offer some perspective on the events of today:

The Horrific Violence and Continuing Legacy of Chicago's 1919 Race Riot

Martin Luther King and Fair Housing in Chicago

The Last Time the Democratic Party Was Torn Apart: The 1968 Democratic Convention

The Killing of Fred Hampton