Press Releases

Al Jazeera America Celebrates Black History Month in February with In-Depth Stories and Conversations about Race in America and New Social Campaign -- #BrandingBlack

New Episodes of “Talk to Al Jazeera” Feature American Ballet Dancer Misty Copeland, Recording Artist Akon, Actress/Comedian Rain Prior and Writer/Photographer Taiye Selasi


Al Jazeera America celebrates Black History Month with in-depth stories and examination of race in America and new themed content on-air and online throughout February.

The network will launch #BrandingBlack, a new month-long, social media campaign that raises important questions about the line between multicultural marketing and the commercialization of “blackness.” Does #BrandingBlack celebrate diversity or perpetuate stereotypes?  Throughout February, Al Jazeera America will deepen the conversation around these issues by creating a transmedia experience, delivering meaningful and culturally relevant videos, analysis and opinions across broadcast and social media. #BrandingBlack will take the conversation “to the people” by engaging social media influencers to cultivate a provocative and in-depth discussion using the #BrandingBlack hashtag.

In February, Al Jazeera America will debut new programming on-air and online including, four new episodes of “Talk To Al Jazeera,” the network’s half-hour conversation with global leaders, icons and alternative voices who are shaping our world; special episodes of Real Money with Ali Velshi; America Tonight’s new three-part series, “Young Revolutionaries,” and numerous in-depth Race In America stories.

Beginning Sunday, February 1, new episodes of “Talk To Al Jazeera” premiere Sundays at 5:30 p.m. ET with encores on Mondays at 9:30 a.m. and Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. ET.   The “Talk to Al Jazeera” line-up for February is as follows:

·         Sunday, February 1: American ballet dancer Misty Copeland sits down with Al Jazeera America’s Richelle Carey to discuss her early life – as one of six children raised by a single mother; race in America, body image, role models in ballet and her new book.

·         Sunday, February 8: Recording artist Akon sits down with Al Jazeera English’s Folly Bah Thibault and shares his controversial views on Africa; racial tension in the US - “the system in America was never built for black people”; and responds to criticism that his lyrics are often demeaning toward women.

·         Sunday, February 15: Rain Pryor sits down with Al Jazeera America’s Richelle Carey. The director, comedian and activists says growing up black and Jewish gives her a unique take on life.

·         Sunday, February 22: Writer/photographer Taiye Selasi, author of the semi-autobiographical book Ghana Must Go, sits down with Al Jazeera’s Stephanie Sy. The globetrotter and commentator on race and culture embodies the terms she’s credited with coining in an early essay - "Afropolitan."


Al Jazeera will debut the following episodes of Real Money with Ali Velshi every Friday at 10:30pm ET with encores at 1:00am ET.

Friday, February 6 - Commercializing Black History Month

Nike just released its 2015 “Black History Month” edition of Nikes. The Vice President of Nike, Michael Jackson, said the collection “honors and celebrates athletes and leaders who have influenced global culture and paved the way for the next generation.” The shoes honor various famous black athletes.  It’s a marketing ploy that enrages civil rights activist Van Jones. He believes the single greatest disservice we can do for African Americans – especially low income kids – is keep the dream alive for millions of kids hoping to get an NBA job when there are only 15 slots – vs millions of jobs available if kids were taught STEM (STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.)  What message are corporations sending to black youth in America with “Black History Month” branding, and is it the right message?

Friday, February 13 - Is MLK too old-school a symbol for Black History Month?

Many younger African Americans say Black History Month isn’t relevant to them; it’s an artifact from a distant time that focuses on men and women from a different era.  Twenty-something’s consider themselves part of a post-racial America; born 20 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated and 20 years before the first black President was elected.  Xavier University Professor Tyrone Williams believes it’s time to evolve the meaning of Black History Month and every year he engages his students to describe what it means to them now and how it should evolve. We check in with America’s twenty-something’s to ask the question, is Black History Month relevant?

Friday, February 20 - “Selma”/Branding Black History Month

If Americans looked at the issue of race in America through the most popular hashtags in the last six months, they’d see this:  #icantbreath (Eric Garner’s last words) #oscarssowhite (no black directors or actors nominated for Oscars) #nmos2014 (moment of silence honoring Michael Brown) #crimingwhilewhite (after grand jury refused to indict police officer who put Garner in choke hold, whites around the country admitted on twitter to their crimes, which had gone unnoticed) #blacklivesmatter, #iftheygunnedmedown (blacks showing photos in professional life vs at home looking like “thugs”). What does the pop culture of twitter say about race in America? A set up package with this information and then an interview with Ava Duvernay, the director of “Selma” who has a unique take on Black History Month as well as a hashtag world. Despite a twitter outrage that she wasn’t chosen for “best director” in Oscar nominations with #osccarssowhite, she says she’s not bothered by it.

Friday, Feburary 27  - Black History Month & Ferguson

The city of Ferguson, Missouri – the focal point of racial tensions between black citizens and white police – has no Black History Month programs scheduled in February.  Ferguson is a city that has been criticized for systemic inequality where 2/3 of the citizens are black. But the mayor, city manager and five of six city council members are white. The city’s mayor, James Knowles, has said it is now time for the city to heal, and has announced measures to promote equality, creating a citizen review board to provide oversight for the police, vowed to recruit more black police officers and pay extra if the officers live in Ferguson. Should programs aimed at Black History Month be included in the healing plan? Do residents even care? City leaders and residents speak out about what Black History Month means through the lens of the tumult of 2014.

America Tonight will debut “Young Revolutionaries,” a new three-part series that pairs three young revolutionaries from the Ferguson movement with their civil rights icons. Each Young Revolutionary will spend time with his or her hero getting and sharing advice and wisdom.

Race In America – Series of stories from Al Jazeera America Correspondents

The network will feature the following Race in America pieces on-air and online:

Al Jazeera America’s Ash-har Quraishi revisits Ferguson, six months post-shooting.  Quraishi looks at what has changed in the community and with the police department under the larger umbrella of why Ferguson was the tipping point for modern race relations in the U.S.

Al Jazeera America’s Science and Technology correspondent Jake Ward looks at multi-racial citizens in the United States and the broken system we use to account for ethnicity and race.  The U.S. government, its agencies, and their contractors are obligated to keep a strict accounting of American races and ethnicities, but the categories are inconsistent and unworkable, and hopelessly outdated. Many people are unaware that until the 1990s, one of the reasons citizens couldn't check more than a single box for racial identity in the census was because the computer doing the counting couldn't handle more than one entry at a time.  Ward breaks down the ways that the changing racial identity of the United States is poised to break the census, affirmative action, and all other math-based systems for counting people by their background.

In another piece, Al Jazeera America correspondent Jake Ward looks at multi-racial families in America and profiles second and third-generation multiracial Americans and multiracial children who now have kids of their own.  For first generation multiracial children, like president Obama,  parents can only draw on their background of a single ethnicity, while trying to encourage their children to be their own people.  But those children can teach their kids entirely new lessons about being unique, an asset that has tremendous psychological and sociological advantages.

Al Jazeera America contributor Tonya Mosley examines what it’s like to be Black in Seattle, Washington.  Seattle is the fastest growing big city in the United States, attributed to the city's healthy economy – but there's one area where the city continues to lag.  According to the latest Census numbers, Seattle is getting "whiter” – in fact, it’s the fifth whitest major city in the nation. Mosley looks at what it's like for recent black transplants to form a life in a city that is becoming homogeneous. 

Al Jazeera America’s Morgan Radford looks at the Influencers and the end of the old guard and rise of the new guard.  Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson tried to be front and center following the grand jury decision, but were they the true influencers?  Radford also examines the influence of social media on race.  Is social media replacing the podium speeches of African American leaders of the past and whether that social media power is being put to use for good or evil. 

Al Jazeera America’s Washington D.C. correspondent Lisa Stark speaks to the program director for the ACLU in D.C. as she hosts outreach ‘talk’ events with a large group of African American teens and tweens.  Stark looks at African American families trying to find the voice to have the “talk.”  Seema Sadanandan, Policy Director for ACLU hosting a workshop with young African American teens/tweens to show her style of communicating and one-on-one.

Throughout the month, will feature stories on the issues including: how local religion influences questions of race in the U.S.; the racial dimensions of voodoo in New Orleans; and white appropriation of Blues music.  Also included are opinion pieces from social media influencers including Taiye Selasi about the commercialization of Black History Month; pieces on Black culture tourism as the social team goes on a tour of Harlem churches with tweets and Instagram experiences; What sociological factors makes the appropriation of Freeway Rick Ross' identity (drug kingpin) by a former corrections officer turned rapper profitable? 

To find Al Jazeera America near you:

About Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America is the U.S. news channel that provides both domestic and international news for American audiences.  Headquartered in New York City with bureaus in 12 cities across the United States, Al Jazeera America is available in more than 61 million homes in the U.S. on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV Channel 347, Dish Network Channel 215, Verizon FiOS Channel 614 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 1219.   The name “Al Jazeera” means “peninsula.”  Al Jazeera America’s distinctive logo is said to resemble a drop of water and its calligraphic design spells “Al Jazeera” in Arabic.  To find Al Jazeera America in your area, visit

Visit Al Jazeera America online at for the latest updates.  You can also like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @AJAM ( and join the conversation using #AlJazeeraAmerica.

For more information, contact:

Jodi Davis, 212-273-4916,



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