Civil Rights Icon Benjamin Chavis to Host Weekly Black Talk Show on PBSBy Hazel Trice Edney, Trice Edney News / September 18, 2020
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WASHINGTON, DC – Civil rights icon Dr. Benjamin Chavis, former NAACP executive director and current president/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), will become host of a weekly Black-oriented public affairs talk show on PBS (Public Broadcasting System) in October.
As racial tensions and disparities have skyrocketed in almost every category of American life, Chavis and the show’s producer Clara Wilkerson say it’s time for a program that challenges the mind and focuses on solutions. They believe the show, Chavis Chronicles, is among the answers. PBS apparently agrees.“Our nation is polarized by race; polarized by politics; polarized by economics; polarized by health disparities; polarized by the pursuit of education and the education gap; culturally polarized; ethnically polarized; religiously polarized,” Chavis said in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. “And so, with all of these multiple polarizations that are under-girded by systemic racism, having a national one half hour in depth discussion about these issues – particularly from an African American perspective – which the main stream media has not really chosen to focus on, will be crucial.”
Chavis Chronicles is set to air in top markets across the nation, starting Oct. 1.
Wilkerson, an award-winning independent producer, has worked with PBS for more than 25 years. Her company, CRW Worldwide, Inc., has produced more than 25 documentaries and video productions held in over 300 libraries internationally. Wilkerson says she created the Chronicles format specifically with Chavis in mind.
“I first and foremost see this show as one that touches the mind, body and soul. PBS is intellectual,” Wilkerson describes her vision for the show. “We’re bringing this program to those who want to see something more introspective – deep thinkers, change makers, leaders – but then we’re not snobs. We’re not saying we just want to do it for those who are highly educated. We want people who are into social justice and what’s good for the masses.”
Chavis Chronicles will be rare programming as there are currently no weekly talk shows on network television specifically from a Black perspective. Also, unlike cable television, PBS is still free of charge, which makes it accessible to people of all income levels, Wilkerson points out. “That’s why PBS is a great place for this. There’s no better place because we can reach the masses.”
Chavis Chronicles in its first year, will feature interviews with national leaders and politicians, doctors and scientists, cultural leaders and influencers from around the globe. The program will go beyond the headlines offering insights on matters that impact the public and provide a unique perspective from a renowned living legend of the African American community.”Chavis says the first episode will feature an interview with U. S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) in his home office in Columbia, S.C. It will not only spotlight Clyburn as the nation’s highest-ranking Black lawmaker in his role as House majority whip; but also his family roots and civil rights background.
A social justice activist of more than 60 years, Chavis says his experiences have given him an appeal to people from all walks of life. He started his civil rights career as a youth coordinator for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Duke University while serving an unjust 34-year prison sentence as a member of the Wilmington 10, who Amnesty International declared political prisoners. The Wilmington 10 case garnered international attention and was pardoned 40 years later. He also received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Howard University. He believes Chavis Chronicles will draw a vastly diverse audience while being from an African American perspective.
“And so, we have an unprecedented opportunity to present an in depth discussion; an in depth analysis and also to talk about some solutions to the problems that beset America and that beset people of color throughout the world; particularly those of African descent,” said Chavis. “My whole career is about freedom, justice and equality. But, overarching, the struggle for freedom, justice and equality is to stand for what’s true. Speaking truth to power, publishing truth to power, distributing truth to power. Now I have an opportunity to broadcast truth to power. If the Chavis Chronicles is going to represent anything, it’s going to represent the truth.”