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WKMS Celebrates Black History Month with Special Programming Each Thursday in February

WKMS celebrates Black History Month with special programming every Thursday in February.
Melanie Davis-McAfee
WKMS celebrates Black History Month with special programming every Thursday in February.

In honor of Black History Month, WKMS will present special programming each Thursday in February from 11 am to 1 pm. Programs include historical, musical, and social content that analyzes and celebrates the Black experience in the U.S. See the full program schedule below.

Thursday, February 2nd

• 11 am: The Invention of Race
This history special traces the development of racial and racist ideas from the ancient world—when "there was no notion of race," as historian Nell Irvin Painter puts it—up to the founding of the United States as, fundamentally, a nation of and for white people.

12 pm: The Freed People
This one-hour Humankind documentary examines how America responded to a massive refugee crisis when four million newly emancipated slaves needed shelter, employment, education, and basic rights at the close of the Civil War. Hear historians, brief readings from letters of people who were there, performances of Negro spirituals, and more.

Thursday, February 9th

• 11 am: The Lost Cause—The Civil War, Then And Now
This provocative audio documentary explores the history of a conflict that nearly tore America apart. Has it resurfaced today in the rise of white supremacism, election denialism, the attack on Critical Race Theory, and the Confederate flags brought into the Capitol during the insurrection on January 6, 2021? You'll hear historians and former U.S. senators explain the ideology that came to be known as the Lost Cause.

• 12 pm: State of Siege: Mississippi Whites and the Civil Rights Movement
Mississippi occupies a distinct and dramatic place in the history of America's civil rights movement. No state in the South was more resistant to the struggle for Black equality. No place was more violent. Drawing on newly discovered archival audio and groundbreaking research on the civil rights era, State of Siege brings to light the extraordinary tactics whites in Mississippi used to battle integration and the lasting impact of that battle in American politics today.

Thursday, February 16th

• 11 am: Black Enough
In this special from The Stoop podcast, Leila explores with TV host Joshua Johnson what it means to be told she 'talks white.' Hana talks to a psychologist as she wonders if she has to like everything Black to avoid getting called out, and we go deep with comedian W. Kamau Bell who has felt awkward in Black circles and in front of Black audiences.

• 12 pm: Driving While Black
One evening in 2015, Montrealer Kenrick McRae was pulled over by the police. The officer told him his license plate lights weren't bright enough. After getting his car approved by the dealership and mounting an additional light, it happened again. In fact, no matter how scrupulous he is, Kenrick, who is Black, says he has been stopped by Montreal police multiple times. This is the story of one person's ongoing experience of racial profiling by police, and how it has undermined every facet of life.

Thursday, February 23rd

11 am: Can Do: Stories of Black Visionaries, Seekers, and Entrepreneurs
From the Kitchen Sisters and PRX, a Black History Month special with host Alfre Woodard, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress. These stories come from The Kitchen Sisters collection—stories of Black pioneers, self-made men and self-taught women, neighborhood heroes, and visionaries. People who said, 'yes, we can,' and then did.

• 12 pm: To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story
Nina Simone was as powerful and complex a person as the music she played. She called it 'Black classical music' and it resists all definitions. It's jazz, rhythm and blues, folk, gospel—a combination as rich as the culture. Like any legend, Nina Simone became a symbol for people and movements through the years. This hour, we'll hear about the music and life of Nina Simone from colleagues and friends—Odetta, Camille Yarbrough, guitarist Al Schackman, Patti Smith, journalist David Nathan, and more.

Celebrate Black History Month with WKMS by listening to special programming on-air, online at, or via the NPR One app. You can also ask your smart speaker to "play WKMS."

Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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