Amistad Documentary Highlights KCET’s Black History Month Programming

KCET, the non-commercial educational, independent TV station in Southern California, has been celebrating Black History Month with a roster of documentaries and special episodes.

This Friday at 9 p.m., KCET is airing Ghosts of Amistad: In the Footsteps of Rebels. Written by University of Pittsburgh professor Marcus Rediker and directed by Tony Buba, the documentary explores 53 Africans’ rebellion against their captors and seizure of slave ship Amistad in 1839.

“We wanted to recover the hidden African side of the story. Our team set out to explore how the Amistad case was remembered in the place where the epic story began,” Rediker said. “For me, Ghosts of Amistad is a project in which ‘film-making from below’ meets ‘history from below.’”

The crew, which also included historians, journeyed to Sierra Leone in May 2013 to talk to the community, learn surviving memories and search for ruins of slave-trading factory Lomboko.

“We came to more fully understand that the history made by working people can be recovered outside the formal archive, in the stories passed one from one generation to another, in the West African oral history tradition,” Rediker said. “This film is the story of that understanding.”

Earlier in the month, the station’s flagship news magazine Social Connected examined L.A.’s Black Lives Matter activist movement. KCET also aired Martin Luther King Jr. documentary Building The Dream. Artbound has been airing episodes dedicated to Black History Month on Tuesday nights, with a feature on black artist Noah Purifoy set for Feb. 23.

On Wednesday, KCET will show Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, a documentary on the former Supreme Court Justice’s years leading up to Brown v. Board of Education at 7 p.m. At 9 p.m., the station will tell the story of Zimbabwean lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa in Beatrice Mtetwa and the Rule of Law.

Next week, KCET’s global music video series Border Blaster will produce a half-hour African music video special on Tuesday, followed by Born This Way, a documentary on Cameroon’s underground gay and lesbian community, on Wednesday. On Feb. 26, Gwen Ifill will spend an evening with BET cofounder Sheila Johnson.