Cassius X: Becoming Ali premieres day and date with Smithsonian Channel in the U.S. on February 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Smithsonian Channel’s nationwide free preview begins today and runs until April 2
(Toronto, ON – January 30, 2023) – To commemorate Black History Month, Smithsonian Channel™ is dedicating its Monday night programming blocks to celebrating and honouring Black history and culture, airing as part of the channel’s nationwide free preview event running until April 2, 2023. The line-up includes the premiere of Afrofuturism: The Origin Story on February 6at 10 p.m. ET/PT, an hour-long special introduces a movement expressed in literature, music and art, featuring futuristic or science fiction themes incorporating elements of Black history and culture; the premiere of Cassius X: Becoming Ali on February 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, a two-hour feature length documentary will explore the transformation of Cassius Clay into international boxing icon and activist, Muhammad Ali, as he risks everything for his new religion while approaching the biggest fight of his life; and re-airings of powerful documentary programs The Obama Years: The Power of Words, Reclaiming History: Our Native Daughters, and The Green Book: Guide to Freedom. Cassius X: Becoming Ali premieres day and date with the premiere on Smithsonian Channel in the U.S., during the channel’s Canadian nationwide free preview, running from January 30 until April 2 on Smithsonian Channel in Canada.
Black History Month Mondays:
- Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier
February 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Meet the black astronauts and engineers standing at the crossroads of the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race.
- Afrofuturism: The Origin Story
February 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
“Afrofuturism” may seem like a new term, but the word was coined decades ago to describe an artistic and cultural tradition that has existed before the transatlantic slave trade. So, what exactly does it mean? Join the conversation as a convergence of creative minds from different disciplines and backgrounds come together to share their ideas and their artistry, and to celebrate centuries of music, dance, sci-fi/fantasy fiction, and film that speak to the Black experience in America, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
- The Obama Years: The Power of Words
February 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Barack Obama launched into American national consciousness at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and ever since, he’s delivered messages of patriotism, unity, and hope through the power of words. Interviews with eminent historians and key figures in his writing process give rare insights into these iconic speeches, as well as the Obama presidency and the man himself.
- Picturing the Obamas: Portraits of Hope (Episode 1)
February 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
From the moment they were unveiled in 2018, the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama captivated the world, becoming an instant social media sensation and bringing record numbers to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. The Obama portraits are groundbreaking not only because they feature the first Black President and First Lady, but also because of the artists behind them. The game-changing portraits were created by two Black artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, a first for presidential portraits commissioned for the museum’s collection. Viewers will learn from curators, journalists, and art critics about the ways in which President Barack and Mrs. Michelle Obama’s portraits commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery disrupt traditional presidential portraiture and spur museums to reach new audiences. The special will follow the unveiling of the White House portraits of the Obamas on September 7th.
- Sports Detectives: Ali’s Missing Gold Medal
February 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
A young Muhammad Ali returned from the Olympic Games a champion in 1960, only to be victimized by bigotry in his segregated home city of Louisville. Disillusioned, he threw his gold medal off the Second Street Bridge and into the Ohio River. This dramatic story appears in Ali’s autobiography, but can we prove any of it is actually true? Join hosts Kevin Barrows and Lauren Gardner as they head to Kentucky to get some answers, search for the missing medal, and discover the story of this complex and compelling sports legend.
- Cassius X: Becoming Ali
February 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Cassius X: Becoming Ali, directed by Muta’Ali Muhammad, examines an overlooked but key chapter in the life of Muhammad Ali. This revealing documentary begins in 1959 when the young boxer, Cassius Clay, begins his journey towards achieving his lifelong dream of becoming World Heavyweight Champion while, at the same time, embarking on a secret spiritual journey. The film explores the next five years in which Clay evolves as both a boxer and a global star while also risking everything – his career, public persona, family and the love of his popstar girlfriend – for both a new religion and new name.
- Reclaiming History: Our Native Daughters
February 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Reclaiming History: Our Native Daughters pulls back the curtain on one of today’s most renowned international musicians, GRAMMY Award-winner Rhiannon Giddens, and her quest alongside musicians Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell, and Amythyst Kiah to continue to use music to explore powerful stories of Black American women’s experience – their struggles, resistance, resilience and hopes.
- The Green Book: Guide to Freedom
February 27 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
The Green Book: Guide to Freedom tells the story of the remarkable travel guide that allowed African Americans to safely tour throughout the United States and parts of Canada during a time of severe institutionalized racism. The film features a wide array of experts delving into the history of the Green Book, including historians, business owners and individuals with first-hand stories of travelling while black in pre-civil rights America. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Yoruba Richen, the filmmaker behind The New Black, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom looks at the daily realities that African Americans faced on the road—the struggles, indignities and dangers, but also the opportunities and triumphs that were won along the way.
Smithsonian Channel Canada, a Blue Ant Media network, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. Program genres, drawn from the world’s leading cultural institution, include air and space, science and nature, pop culture and history. Smithsonian Channel travels beyond the ordinary to reveal a vast scope of exciting stories and experiences that fuel the curiosity in all of us. smithsonianchannel.ca. Follow us on: Facebook.
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