(This is an updated story, after the superb Lewis tribute ran Tuesday, Aug. 4)
John Lewis has received another TV tribute –this time in prime time on CBS.
“John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero” aired Tuesday, with a gorgeous blend of music and history. That’s one of many shows that have been added lately, as TV networks pay increased attention to Black people and issues.
Lewis died of cancer July 17 at 80, after 33 years in Congress and 57 years of civil-rights leadership. He was a prime force in the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma bridge march in 1965. (He’s shown here in a reunion march at the bridge.)
Several networks covered his memorial services – including one final trip across the bridge where, 55 years earlier, he was stopped by police and beaten. The CBS hour will include music – Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Common, Yolanda Adams, Jon Batiste, Wynonna – and interviews. It will later air on BET, MTV, Smithsonian and the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Other Black-themed shows were announced recently for:
– Bravo. “Race in America: A Movement, Not a Moment,” will be 10 p.m. Aug. 9, allowing many people from low-impact shows to discuss serious issues. Kandi Burruss of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” is one of the producers; the show will include people from several “Real Housewives” shows (Atlanta, New York, Potomac, Orange County), two “Married to Medicine” shows (Atlanta, LA) and “Top Chef.”
– Apple TV+: Oprah Winfrey has started weekly, remotely filmed discussions. The first was with Emmanuel Acho, author of “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”
– Disney*: “Black is King,” a visual album by Beyonce,” debuted Friday (July 31). Using diverse actors and dancers, it takes the music of “The Lion King: The Gift” and re-imagines the message; It was filmed in New York, Los Angeles, South Africa, West Africa, London and Belgium.
– PBS: A flood of new specials and series was announced. Chronologically, they include:
Oct. 5: “Tell Me More,” 9 p.m. It’s an interview series by author Kelly Corrigan. The opener has Bryan Stevenson, the crusading lawyer played by Michael B. Jordan in “Just Mercy.”
Oct. 9: “Kids Talk About Race and Racism.” It will include scenes from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Arthur” and “Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum.”
Feb. 16 and 23: “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song.” Henry Louis Gates looks at the impact and the music.
Not yet scheduled: Alicia Keys is producing an “American Masters” about pioneering Black women in entertainment – Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier. Also, “Independent Lens” has “Mr. Soul,” about Ellis Haizlip, who produced “Soul,” a pioneering public-TV variety show in 1968.