While the world continues to fight COVID-19, the United States has been working through two difficult crises: the pandemic and the ongoing issues of racial and social injustice that have long plagued our nation. In 2021, Americans are once again turning to their TVs not only for entertainment, but also to learn. Recognizing that now is the time for change, many TV networks are taking this opportunity to educate viewers on the discrimination of America’s past and present.
National Geographic’s efforts to tackle issues of racial and social injustice caught our eyes. The TV network has proven itself to be a master storyteller, not only using its platform to shed light on our planet and those who live on it, but also to draw attention to vital global issues. This year, National Geographic continues to take a critical and curious eye to documenting the human experience, going out of its way to shed light on the past and present challenges that diverse communities face across America.
National Geographic announced its new lineup earlier this month at the annual Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour, and there are three upcoming programs that we (very strongly) suggest you tune-in to – because we will be too!
1. Genius: Aretha (March 2021)
The Emmy Award winning anthology series Genius is back, this time profiling the life and career of Aretha Franklin, played by Tony and Grammy winning actress, Cynthia Erivo. This season will address the unique challenges and hardships that Aretha Franklin faced as a Black woman trying to make it in a world that was not built for her to succeed. You can tune into the new season premiere of Genius: Aretha on March 21, 2021.
2. National Geographic Presents: Impact with Gal Gadot (April 2021)
This TV series profiles a group of women around the world as they fight against the odds to make their communities better and safer. Executive Producer & Director, Vanessa Roth, said it was important that the stories of each woman stay at the core of the project. “When we go into any place that we film, we really rely on the expertise and knowledge of the women that we’re with and we have local crews. And everything we do is really a true collaboration with the people that we’re doing films about.” said Roth.
The series’ subjects run the gambit from a ballet teacher in Brazil to a figure skating coach in Detroit, and more in between. By focusing on regular women doing often unsung work, the series hopes to change how viewers see their own impacts on the world. You can catch this special series starting April 19, 2021.
3. Red Summer (June 2021)
To coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre in June, Red Summer is a special documentary project that focuses on the work being done to uncover, record and teach a story that often gets omitted from history lessons. From acclaimed director, Dawn Porter, Red Summer not only explores the forces that led to the infamous 1921 Tulsa massacre—in which mobs of white residents murdered an estimated 300 Black Tulsans and razed an affluent Black neighborhood—but also brings audiences along on the continued fight for justice a century later, both for the victims of the 1921 massacre as well as racial justice for all Black Americans.
This spring, you can look forward to these premieres and the rest of what National Geographic has on tap for the season. If anything, the past year has demonstrated the powerful role that TV plays in our life. National Geographic’s commitment to entertaining while informing is a prime example of how that power can be used to better the world we all share.
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