Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Exclusive: The Smithsonian Channel Recruits Storytellers to Explore the Meaning of Juneteenth

The collection of original video essays is part of the network's multi-day commemoration of Juneteenth and an exploration of the Black experience in America.

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Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh, left, Jason Reynolds, and Nic Stone
Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh, left, Jason Reynolds, and Nic Stone

America continues to reckon with how to commemorate Juneteenth, the bittersweet holiday honoring the belated emancipation date of enslaved people on June 19, 1865. This year, The Smithsonian Channel is choosing to commemorate the date with a slate of thought-provoking original programming on its linear and digital platforms, starting with a series of original video essays from some of the most inspiring voices in American letters.

Per a press release provided to The Root:

The Smithsonian Channel today announced a series of powerful original video essays to commemorate Juneteenth, honoring the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy on June 19, 1865. The essays are from prominent and emerging writers, artists, activists, community leaders and teachers reflecting on Juneteenth and how this consequential moment in American history deeply resonates today.

Per Smithsonian, the series was executive produced by Elissa Rubin, Dane Joseph and James Blue. Essayists include:

  • Associate Director of the Edmund Gordon Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, Christopher Emdin, also author of the New York Times bestseller, For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood.. and the Rest of Y’all Too and the upcoming Ratchetdemic: Reimagining Academic Success.
  • National Book Award Finalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds, author of Miles Morales: Spider Man, Look Both Ways, and a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, among others. Reynolds is the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
  • YA novelist Nic Stone, author of New York Times bestsellers Dear Martin, Dear Justyce and Clean Getaway, as well as the Black Panther novels Shuri and Shuri: The Vanished, among others.
  • Grammy-nominated, Indigenous Music award winning artist Maimouna Youssef aka Mumu Fresh, also a Musical Ambassador for the US State Department, an elected governor of The DC Chapter of The Recording Academy and an Ambassador of The Black Music Collective.

Emdin, Reynolds, and Youssef’s essays will all air on the Smithsonian Channel, with the full slate, which also includes educator-author-producer Yaba Blay, sociologist and author Crystal Fleming, and B2B software company FeedMagnet founder Jason Ford featured on the channel’s social platforms. The Smithsonian Channel provided an exclusive preview to The Root, featuring Jason Reynolds.

Adding to its Juneteenth lineup, The Smithsonian Channel also will air episodes of the CBS News-produced series Boiling Point, “a six-part, immersive documentary series that reexamines America’s troubled history of systemic racism and police brutality over the decades.” Additionally, a special block of curated programming showcasing the Black experience will run on Juneteenth itself, this Saturday from 1pm to 11pm ET/PT.