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“The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights” airs Feb. 18 on PBS

Melissa Hayer Modified: April 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm •  Published: January 28, 2013

The PBS documentary series “Independent Lens” is scheduled to feature “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights,” narrated by Tulsa native Alfre Woodard and premiering at 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18 (check local listings).

Interviews with Howard Zinn, Donald Rumsfeld, Dorothy Height, Ossie Davis, Julian Bond, Vernon Jordan, John Lewis, Kenneth Chenault and more are included in the film.

Details on “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights,” provided by PBS, are as follows:

Civil rights leader Whitney Young, Jr. has no national holiday bearing his name. You won’t find him in most history books. In fact, few today know his name, much less his accomplishments. But he was at the heart of the civil rights movement — an inside man who broke down the barriers that held back African Americans.

Young shook the right hands, made the right deals, and opened the doors of opportunity that had been locked tight through the centuries. Unique among black leaders, the one-time executive director of the National Urban League took the fight directly to the powerful white elite, gaining allies in business and government. In the Oval Office, Young advised presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and guided each along a path toward historic change.

“The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights” follows Young as he shuttles between the streets of Harlem and the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, tying the needs of Main Street to the interests of Wall Street. The film shows the pivotal events of the civil rights era — Brown v Board of Education, the March on Washington, and the Vietnam War — through the eyes of a man striving to change the established powers in a way no one else could: from within.

The film is executive produced by Young’s niece, Emmy Award-winning journalist Bonnie Boswell and produced by Boswell, Christine Khalafian and Taylor Hamilton.

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