FSN has announced plans to celebrate Black History Month with a series of national and local programming initiatives designed to honor the contributions of African Americans to American culture, both inside and outside the world of sports.
For the first time ever, FSN’s programming plans will include a national component, including a half-hour special – “Americans in Focus” – that chronicles compelling stories compelling stories of African Americans who struggled to overcome obstacles to achieve greatness in their field. Among those are civil rights icons with Detroit connections – Rosa Parks and Ralph Bunche:
• Americans In Focus (30-minute special) – Sat. Feb. 9 @ 6:30 PM & Mon. Feb. 18 @ 7:30 PM on FSN Detroit. This show features extraordinary achievements of African Americans and their perseverance for equality in society and/or sports during a period when racial segregation was the law of the land. Profiles include civil rights trail blazers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., legendary Detroiter Rosa Parks, Arthur Ashe, and Larry Doby, as well as former slave-turned entrepreneur Bridget “Biddy” Mason, Nobel Peace Prize-winner and Detroit native Ralph Bunche, and Charles Cooper, the first African American drafted by an NBA team.
• Black History Month Tributes, presented by Toyota – FSN Detroit commemorates Black History Month by presenting a series of 30- and 60-second tributes airing within Pistons telecasts and other programming throughout February. The tributes, presented by Toyota, were taped on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Among the presenters are Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter and museum president/CEO Juanita Moore. The tributes recognize landmark events, significant accomplishments and influential individuals.
Also airing on FSN Detroit during Black History Month:
• ’51 Dons: Pride, Honor, & Friendship – Sat. Feb. 9 @ 6:00 PM & Mon. Feb. 25 @ 7:30 PM on FSN Detroit. This 30-minute program tells the story of the 1951 University of San Francisco Dons, which entered the college football season fielding a team that would go undefeated (9-0) and which produced nine NFL players, including three future Hall of Famers (Gino Marchetti, Ollie Matson, and Bob St. Clair). The team was the school’s best ever, but it never went to a bowl game. It was an era of segregation, and when the only bowl to express interest in the Dons was the Orange Bowl, promoters let it be known they would invite USF only if they left their two African-American players behind. The team refused rather than compromise their values.
• Americans in Focus (90-second vignettes). Airing during FSN’s NBA and NHL telecasts and other programming, this first-time vignette series will showcase past and present African Americans who have excelled in professions that initially were considered outside the realm of possibility for a person of color. Subjects include: Bessie Coleman, the first licensed African-American female pilot; Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut (and namesake of the Mae C. Jamison Academy in Detroit); renowned artist Ernie Barnes, one of the most collected painters in the U.S.; and photographer, writer, and filmmaker Gordon Parks, the first African American to work as staff photographer for Life Magazine.
In producing the national shows, FSN has partnered with Beezley Films, Inc., an African-American-owned, multi-media production company based in Los Angeles. FSN had previously worked with Beezley Films on the critically acclaimed Crosstown Rivals, which chronicled the historic high school football rivalry in Los Angeles between Pasadena High School and John Muir High School.
FSN’s Black History Month programming will be showcased across all of its regional sports networks.