PBS’s 50th Anniversary’s Signature Programming Initiative, Produced by RadicalMedia, Starts a National Conversation About What It Means to Be an American Today
EAST LANSING, MI; Tue., Dec. 29, 2020 - As part of PBS's 50th anniversary crowdsourced storytelling project, PBS American Portrait premieres on WKAR TV in mid-Michigan Tuesday, January 5, 2021, 9:00 p.m. The four-part documentary series captures the remarkable story of 2020 through the voices of everyday people from every U.S. state and territory.
PBS American Portrait is the most ambitious multiplatform project in the organization’s history. Since it launched in January 2020, the PBS American Portrait website has collected more than 11,000 stories from people across America that, together, hope to answer the question: What does it really mean to be an American today? Millions of people visited the site throughout 2020 to explore user-submitted stories in response to a series of thought-provoking prompts and the events of 2020 in real time. These stories helped share the themes reflected in the four-part docuseries.
Produced by PBS and RadicalMedia, each of the four new hour-long programs blends stories filmed by everyday people to create a chorus of voices sharing both common and unique experiences from across the country. Each episode in the series focuses on a main theme—“I Dream,” about our varied pursuits of the American Dream; “I Work,” about the aspirations, struggles and satisfaction in our careers; “I Keep,” about the traditions and values we hold; and “I Rise,” about working to create an antiracist America. These experiences yield complex and diverse stories of what brings us together and what keeps us apart as we strive to understand one another.
The episode descriptions are as follows:
Episode 1 “I Dream” premieres Tuesday, January 5, 2021, 9:00–10:00 p.m.
Self-shot stories explore the meaning and state of the American dream. From the desire for homeownership to ambitions for higher education or career success, they show the hard work, opportunities and barriers that come with pursuing this ideal today. The main stories featured are Mahsa A. from Fairfax, Virginia; Tyler M. & Bre R. from Joliet, Illinois; and Gunnar J. from Unalakleet, Alaska.
Episode 2 “I Work” premieres Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 9:00–10:00 p.m.
Everyday people share self-shot stories about their jobs and careers as they navigate the changes they’re experiencing and the goals they’re working toward. From teachers to truck drivers, they explore what it really means to work in America today. The main stories featured are D’Artanian D. & Jonathan E. from New Orleans; Jessica M. from Chula Vista, California; and Laura H. from Stillwell, Oklahoma.
Episode 3 “I Keep” premieres Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 9:00–10:00 p.m.
People film themselves as they try to preserve or change traditions in their lives and communities. From struggling to protect culture to eliminating toxic legacies, it’s an intimate look at the practices we’ve inherited and the ones we’ll pass on. The main stories featured are Emma H. from Seattle; Yolanda B. from Dallas; and Dwight S. from St. Helena Island, South Carolina.
Episode 4 “I Rise” premieres Tuesday, January 26, 2021, 9:00–10:00 p.m.
Go inside the lives of people working to create an antiracist American future. They film themselves doing the hard work, confronting the obstacles and achieving the small victories that could add up to real change in the movement for racial justice. The main stories featured are Christine H. from Austin, Texas; Anisa O. from Mankato, Minnesota; and Lex S. from Sandy, Utah.
MICHIGANDER: Share Your Story With WKAR
Share your story and be part of Michigander: A PBS American Portrait Story
We’re gathering stories from around our great state to create a portrait of what it means to be a Michigander. Your story could be used in the upcoming Michigander television special from WKAR; on the PBS American Portrait website and on social media. Share your story with a note, in pictures, or with a simple video selfie. It’s a chance to give others a glimpse into your life, and a chance for you to be heard. Share your Michigan story today!