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Black History Month on TV

Black History Month on TV


Find out more about this annual celebration, including the best shows to watch throughout the month

By Virgin TV Edit

From the origins of Black History Month to some of the highlights to watch out for on TV this October, here’s what you should know...


What is Black History Month?

Black History Month is widely regarded as an annual month-long celebration of the achievements, impact and contributions of Black people across the globe.


When did Black History Month start?

An embryonic version of Black History Month originated in the USA in 1926 when historian Carter G Woodson established Negro History Week. The aim was to teach Black history in the nation’s public schools. Fast forward to the start of 1970, when Black educators at Kent State University held the first Black History Month. Six years after that it was being celebrated across the USA.


When is Black History Month 2020?

This year’s Black History Month in the UK takes place from Thursday 1 October to Saturday 31 October. The celebration is held throughout February in the US.


Which countries take part in Black History Month?

The USA has led the way since 1970, but other nations also recognise Black History Month. The UK first’s celebration was in 1987, while Canada (1995) and the Republic Of Ireland (2010) also have their own versions of the event.


How is Black History Month being celebrated on TV?

Plenty of channels are broadcasting special shows throughout October to mark this year’s Black History Month in the UK, including SKY HISTORY, ITV and Channel 4. Here’s a selection of some of the new shows coming up…


Walk Against Fear: James Meredith

Thursday 1 October, 9pm, Smithsonian Channel HD (CH 276)

James H Meredith remains one of the unsung – and misunderstood – heroes of the Civil Rights movement. The first African-American student to be admitted to the then-segregated University of Mississippi, his 1966 March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, was a landmark event that furthered the Civil Rights cause. Featuring exclusive access to Meredith, this new documentary shines a light on the reclusive activist.


400 Years: Taking The Knee

Colin Kaepernick in 400 Years: Taking The Knee

Sunday 4 October, 9pm, SKY HISTORY HD (CH 270)

This two-part documentary not only looks at the European slave trade, but also the courageous individuals who fought against colonialism. Covering four centuries of British and US history, this enlightening UK premiere highlights the heroes who resisted the inhuman practice of slavery.


Alison Hammond: Back To School

Alison Hammond in Back To School

Tuesday 6 October, 9pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)

This Morning’s Alison Hammond will take a fresh look at how Black British history is taught in schools in this new ITV series. Travelling the length of the UK, the presenter will examine the key figures who have been left out of the British school curriculum.


Slaveship Mutiny

Sunday 11 October, 9pm, SKY HISTORY HD (CH 270)

In 1766, the slave ship Meermin became stranded off the southern tip of Africa. The Madagascan slaves on board overpowered the Dutch crew in what is regarded as the first successful rebellion on a slave ship. Despite attempts to have the ship sail back to Madagascar, the crew managed to set sail for their original destination – Cape Town. Discover the story of this little-known chapter of Black history, thanks to this one-off documentary.

Aftershock: Beyond The Civil War

Sunday 18 October, 9pm, SKY HISTORY HD (CH 270)

The history books will tell you the American Civil War ended in 1865, yet southern states continued to terrorise and enslave the Black community long after it was concluded. By exploring what really took place following the conflict, this feature-length documentary sheds new light on the post-Civil War landscape of the American South.


IRL With Team Charlene

Coming this October, ITV HD (CH 103/113) + CITV (CH 734)

Aimed at younger viewers, ITV news presenter Charlene White will discuss the issue of racism through animated shorts that tell real-life stories of discrimination, plus contributions from experts.


Black, British And Funny

Coming this October, Channel 4 HD (CH 104/141)

Comedian Mo Gilligan knows a thing or two about making the nation laugh. But what about the other Black comedians who come before him? In this new documentary, Gilligan will take a closer look at the funnymen and funnywomen who blazed a trail for comics of his generation.

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