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Bowie State University Is Now The First HBCU To Sponsor National PBS Documentaries

Bowie State University Is Now The First HBCU To Sponsor National PBS Documentaries

The documentaries are required viewing!

Bowie State University is now the first historically Black university to sponsor national PBS documentaries, reports.

Bowie State is the first HBCU founded in Maryland, established in Baltimore in 1865. The University provides a liberal arts education with an emphasis on science, technology, cybersecurity, teacher education, business and nursing disciplines. Now the University is expanding its footprint, announcing itself as the premier sponsor for two original PBS documentaries, making history as the first historically Black college to do so. 

Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom and Becoming Frederick Douglass are films created by Oscar nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson that shine a light on the iconic Maryland natives who grew to become pioneers in the fight to end slavery. Douglas, born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1818, escaped from slavery in 1838 and grew to national prominence as a leader of the abolitionist movement. Similarly, Tubman who was born in Dorchester County, Maryland some 200 years ago escaped from Slavery to Philadelphia in 1849, working with the abolitionist movement to free more than 70 enslaved people through the Underground Railroad.

Photo Courtesy of Bowie State University

Nelson partnered with Firelight Films and Maryland Public Television (MPT) to co-produce the film alongside the State of Maryland and Bowie State, an endeavor University officials say is in direct alignment with their mission. 

“Since the first days of our founding in Baltimore with the mission to begin educating the newly emancipated citizens of Maryland, Bowie State University has been a trailblazer. Building on that legacy, we are proud to boldly step up to partner with Maryland Public Television to help bring forward fresh perspectives on the influence of these two powerful champions of freedom that continue to resonate in today’s dialogue on social justice,” said Bowie State President Aminta H. Breaux. 

Photo Courtesy of Bowie State University

Screenings of the one-hour documentaries will take place on Bowie State’s campus, allowing open discussions on the film from community participants that connect to current racial and social ills. MPT is also putting together various educational materials based on the films that will be made available online to educators and students in grades 4-12. 

“We’re honored to partner with Bowie State University, the oldest HBCU in Maryland, to present important new films about these two American freedom fighters. With its legacy of academic excellence and commitment to social justice, Bowie State’s distinction as the first HBCU to sponsor national documentary films on PBS is a partnership model for how public broadcasting and HBCUs can help the nation view and understand contemporary issues using a historic lens,” said MPT senior VP and chief content officer, Travis Mitchell. 

DIRECTV is also responsible for making the programs possible, Dr. Breaux commending the partners who’ve made all of this a reality. 

“It is critically important that we continue to preserve and elevate all aspects of African American history and its rich tapestry woven into every aspect of American history. I commend MPT and public broadcasting stations across the country for their commitment to bring these stories to their diverse audiences,” said Dr. Breaux. 

Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom and Becoming Frederick Douglass will air on MPT and nationally on PBS stations, and the PBS Video App this October. For more information about both films visit

Photo Courtesy of Bowie State University