WTTW and WFMT to Address Race in America through Broadcast and Streaming Content and Discussion PEACE & JUSTICE: A WTTW News Special and Community Discussion, Documentaries, Music, and Children’s Programming

By Julia Maish |

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CHICAGO – June 5, 2020 – WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station and WFMT, Chicago’s classical radio station announced today that it will present a series of specials, films, and music content focused on race and inequity in America. “This has been a painful week for the black community, and for our city and country,” said Sandra Cordova Micek, President and CEO of WTTW and WFMT. “WTTW and WFMT have a role to play now, and our purpose to enrich lives, engage communities and inspire exploration has never been more relevant. Recent events compel us to redouble our focus on how we use our public media platform to serve our community.


As a trusted source of news and information, WTTW will provide thoughtful and accurate coverage of the unfolding events to inform and engage the public, and create opportunities for real conversation and a platform for different voices and perspectives.

The program will be anchored by managing editor Judy Woodruff with contributions from senior national correspondent Amna Nawaz, correspondent Yamiche Alcindor and special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault. RACE MATTERS: AMERICA IN CRISIS will focus on the frustration pouring out onto American streets; outrage about police brutality; and America’s systemic racial disparities in the economy, education, criminal justice system and health care. The program will also include grassroots voices from around the country and roundtable conversations with thought leaders and other newsmakers.

PEACE & JUSTICE: A WTTW NEWS SPECIAL – Monday, June 8 at 7:00 pm
The ongoing demonstrations are once again bringing to light the psychological and emotional impact of racism and police brutality on the black community. WTTW News will lead an important conversation about systemic racism in policing, the trauma of growing up black in America, and where we go from here in taking the steps to heal, rebuild, and create equity. Host and CHICAGO TONIGHT co-anchor Brandis Friedman will shine a spotlight on some of the recent cases of racism in law enforcement, reporter/producer Angel Idowu will share a black family’s experience in having conversations with their children about the civil unrest happening now and the root causes of it and co-anchor Paris Schutz will be live from one of Chicago’s predominantly black neighborhoods to speak with members of the community about what peace and justice means to them.

Immediately following the television special, viewers will be asked to join an online conversation with Chicago community and thought leaders hosted by Sylvia Ewing, Director of Strategic Communications, Marketing, and Outreach at Elevate Energy, who can also be seen on WTTW and around the country as an on-air television host for PBS specials. Xavier Ramey, CEO of Justice Informed; L. Anton Seals, Jr., Executive Director of Grow Greater Englewood; and Tanya Woods, Executive Director of the Westside Justice Center will participate in the discussion and topics will include policing in Chicago, economic inequality, and the role individuals and institutions play in addressing peace and justice.


Independent Lens: Tell Them We Are Rising – The Story of Black Colleges and Universities – Friday, June 5 at 9:00 pm
This film examines the impact historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have had on American history, culture, and national identity.

THE TALK: RACE IN AMERICA – Friday, June 5 at 11:00 pm
This documentary tells six stories of struggle between people of color and law enforcement in America. It chronicles how families attempt to protect their children with “The Talk,” and about what to do and how to react if they are stopped by police.

INDEPENDENT LENS: I Am Not Your Negro – Monday, June 8 at 11:00 pm
This film envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a revolutionary and personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

GREAT PERFORMANCES: Twilight Los Angeles – Tuesday, June 9 at 10:00 pm
Anna Deavere Smith’s powerful one-woman theater piece presents a riveting account of the violent aftermath of the 1992 Rodney King verdict and the lasting impact of the Los Angeles riots on America’s conscience. Director Marc Levin weaves Smith’s stage performance with news footage and interviews to create a portrait of rage, sorrow, loss and battered hope.

The First Rainbow Coalition – Wednesday, June 10 at 8:00 pm
In 1969, the Chicago Black Panther Party began to form alliances across lines of race and ethnicity with other community-based movements in the city, calling themselves the Rainbow Coalition. By 1973, the coalition had collapsed under the weight of relentless harassment by local and federal law enforcement. Although short-lived, it created a permanent shift in Chicago politics and served as an organizing model for future activists and politicians across the nation.

’63 Boycott – Wednesday, June 10 at 9:00 pm
In 1963, 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. This film connects the forgotten story of one of the largest Northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education and youth activism.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution – Wednesday, June 10 at 9:30 pm
Revisit the turbulent 1960s, when a new revolutionary culture emerged with the Black Panther Party at the vanguard. Stanley Nelson tells the vibrant story of a pivotal movement that feels timely all over again.

John Lewis: Get in the Way – Sunday, June 14 at 12:00 pm
This documentary follows the journey of civil rights hero, U.S. Representative and human rights champion John Lewis. At the Selma March, Lewis came face to face with club-wielding troopers as he exemplified non-violence. Now Lewis is considered the conscience of United States Congress.

AMERICA IN BLACK AND BLUE – Monday, June 15 at 8:00 pm
This special report from across the country will feature interviews with key leaders and participants in the struggle for racial justice, accountability and equity, as well as voices from law enforcement. As the latest crisis of police violence on black citizens, and outraged protests and ensuing violence engulf the nation, this special will bring context and insight. Correspondents will report from Minneapolis, Georgia, New York and elsewhere, and interviews from PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND, AMANPOUR AND COMPANY and other PBS national and local programming will be included.

Children’s Programming

At the heart of treasured PBS Kids series SESAME STREET’s mission is the idea to help kids everywhere grow up to be kind. WTTW’s commitment to nurturing curiosity and understanding in the very youngest members of the community remains strong. In the coming days, PBS and WTTW KIDS will offer families resources to discuss race, racism, civil rights, current events and more with young children, including a virtual event on YouTube on Tuesday, June 9 at 2:30 pm with parents, teachers and child development experts.


Music has its own role to play in the expression of hope and pain, and in the search for peace and meaning. Classical music radio station WFMT will present a full day of classical music from the perspectives of black composers, instrumentalists, singers and conductors on Sunday, Jun 7 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Of special note at 4:00 pm, WFMT will air Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, a composition by Joel Thompson. The seven unarmed men, whose last words are used as texts in this powerful choral composition, were Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kenneth Chamberlain, Amadou Diallo and John Crawford. They were all killed by police or by authority figures. Thompson will comment on what moved him to write this piece.

About WTTW and WFMT
WTTW is the PBS member station in Chicago, committed to creating and presenting unique media content across distinct television and digital channels – WTTW, WTTW Prime, WTTW Create/WTTW World, WTTW PBS Kids 24/7, wttw.com and the PBS/WTTW video app. Recognized for award-winning journalism and local productions such as CHICAGO TONIGHT, CHICAGO BY ‘L’, CHECK, PLEASE!, digital-first series FIRSTHAND, URBAN NATURE, and FOODPHILES, and national productions 10 THAT CHANGED AMERICA and NATURE CAT, WTTW presents the very best in public affairs, arts and culture, nature and science, history and documentary, and children’s public media content. Connect with WTTW on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

WFMT is one of the nation’s most respected classical music radio stations, available on-air at 98.7FM, online at wfmt.com/listen, and on the WFMT app. WFMT showcases superlative programs, concerts, archives, and live events from the CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, GRANT PARK MUSIC FESTIVAL, the METROPOLITAN OPERA, RAVINIA FESTIVAL, and many more. WFMT is also a leading producer and syndicator of a diverse selection of outstanding musical series, including EXPLORING MUSIC WITH BILL MCGLAUGHLIN, the Beethoven Network, and the Jazz Network. Connect with WFMT on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.