Arkansas PBS Tackles Race, Police Brutality and Outrage

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As the state and nation grapple with fervent protests over police brutality and homicide, Arkansas PBS is planning special public affairs programming on race relations starting Friday evening with veteran journalist Steve Barnes hosting a panel discussion on the state public network’s flagship “Arkansas Week.”

Barnes will host Judge Wiley Branton Jr., Little Rock NAACP President Dianne Curry and Urban League leader Scott Hamilton at 7:30 p.m. Friday for a look at the demonstrations sweeping the country. The program will be replayed at 10 a.m. Sunday, and episodes are also at myarkansaspbs.org/arkansasweek.

Barnes’ half-hour examination leads off a series of programs Arkansas PBS and the national system have prepared to help children and adults understand and assess current events.

Just after “Arkansas Week,” the public network will air “Race Matters: America in Crisis: A PBS NewsHour Special.” Anchored by Public Broadcasting System Managing Editor Judy Woodruff, the special will feature reports from “PBS NewsHour” correspondents Amna Nawaz, Yamiche Alcindor and Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

The focus will be on outrage over police brutality, and America’s deep systemic racial disparities in the economy, education, criminal justice and health care, “especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a news release from the network.

“Reporting on race in America … has been a longstanding commitment at PBS NewsHour,” the release said. NewsHour’s “Race Matters” series, it noted, was initially started in 2015 to explore race, diversity and intolerance online and in broadcast.

Families and educators looking for resources to talk to children and help them learn about race, civil rights, black history and current events, the release said, can access free content from Arkansas PBS LearningMedia (myarkansaspbs.pbslearningmedia.org).

A special hourlong Arkansas PBS forum on racism and its fruits is planned for Thursday, June 11, with viewers asked to submit comments and questions to publicaffairs@myarkansaspbs.org. The cutoff for comments is June 9.