After barely acknowledging it for decades, several television platforms on Friday will commemorate Juneteenth and its meaning to the ongoing struggle for black equality in America.
Juneteenth, a blend of the words June and nineteenth, honors the end of slavery in the United States. Celebrated on June 19, it marks the day in 1865 that Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army landed in Galveston, Texas, and informed slaves there that the Civil War had ended and slavery was abolished.
Topping the offerings is a prime-time special called “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming” (8 p.m., ABC).
Led by a team of ABC News anchors and correspondents including “ABC News Live Prime” anchor Linsey Davis, “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts, correspondents Deborah Roberts, TJ Holmes, Steve Osunsami and Janai Norman, and “The View” moderator Whoopi Goldberg, the one-hour program will feature reporting from Tulsa, Okla.; Galveston, Texas; and other cities across the country observing the day.
ABC says “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming” will present “intimate stories, examining the legacy of the holiday through the current lens of political and social unrest that has captured global attention.” The special will feature stories of black-owned businesses and the #BuyBlack movement to support them, the fight for voting rights and protecting them in 2020, the struggle to pass congressional anti-lynching legislation, the power of black spirituality and the church and other houses of faith, and how a legacy of suffering has often been transformed into joy through the lens of artists.
In some ways, it’s fitting that ABC lead the charge in this area. The network is often credited with offering prime time’s most diverse lineup. And in 2017, the ABC sitcom “Black-ish” opened its fourth season with an episode celebrating — and explaining — Juneteenth.
“(Juneteenth is) a 150-year-old tradition that no one’s heard about,” Anthony Anderson proclaims during the show, “not even my Black kids.”
In other programming on Friday …
— CBS: The network doesn’t have a single dedicated special on its schedule, but says it will weave features and interviews in through its regular news programming that will “take a look at where the country stands today and examine this watershed moment after the death of George Floyd, as the country confronts systemic racism and policing in America.”
During the “CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell” (6:30-7 p.m.), correspondent Jericka Duncan looks at how local communities and private companies across the country are moving to commemorate the day.
— OWN: Oprah Winfrey’s cable network will offer a day full of special programming.
It starts at 3 p.m. ET/PT with “Dark Girls,” a documentary that examines the prejudices dark-skinned women face throughout the world. That will be followed by “Light Girls” at 4:30 p.m.
Other highlights include “Oprah & Lupita Nyong’o on Colorism” (6:30 p.m.), “Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved the Way” (7:30 p.m.), the “OWN: Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here? Part 1” (9 p.m.) and “OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here? Part 2” (10 p.m.).
— FX: The cable network is airing several feature films, including “Hidden Figures,” “Selma” and “Get Out.” The day will also include a “Black-ish” marathon and eight episodes of Donald Glover’s Emmy-winning comedy “Atlanta.”
Programming begins at 7 a.m. ET/PT with “Hidden Figures” and continues for nearly 24 hours (check local listings). All of the shows and movies will also air on FXX and FXM.
The “Black-ish” marathon, beginning at 1 p.m., includes the “Juneteenth” episode. “Atlanta” also has an episode titled “Juneteenth.”
— Vice TV: Content dedicated to the Juneteenth celebration includes “Losing Ground” (10 p.m. ET/PT) with Vice News correspondent Alzo Slade, who takes viewers to the Southern U.S. to explore the vulnerability many black land owners face as they try to retain their piece of the American dream.
Other highlights include “Say Her Name” (10:30 p.m.), a special that explores the story of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year old EMT who was shot and killed during a “no-knock” search warrant.
Earlier in the day is “Black Market” (5 p.m.) which has actor Michael K. Williams taking a look into the lives of people who work in underworld economies.
Check your listings for other programs on Vice TV.
— Ovation TV: The arts network is going all-out with a 24-hour programming block celebrating the work of Black activists and artists, including Beyoncé, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alfre Woodard, Will Smith, Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks and Pharrell Williams.
It started at 6 a.m. ET with “DMC: Walk This Way,” a documentary that tells the story of Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels, one of three founding members of RunDMC, the group that brought rap to the mainstream.
For other programs and times, consult your listings.
©2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)