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PBS to Release Programs Recounting Historical Figures, Events

4 Feb, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime

PBS Home Video will take viewers back in time with its upcoming slate of documentaries about prominent personalities and dark, historic moments in the United States.

Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, arriving March 1 (prebook Feb. 8), delves into the life of former President Ronald Regan’s wife. Nancy Reagan has been called one of the most influential first ladies in modern times for making her own stamp on policy issues while her husband was in office from 1981 to 1989.

In the program — a conversation with “PBS NewsHour” senior correspondent Judy Woodruff — Reagan speaks candidly about growing up in Maryland, being a Hollywood actress during the 1940s and ’50s, and her cherished marriage to Ronald Reagan, who succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease in 2004. He would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. Losing her husband to the disorder has led Reagan to become a champion of stem cell research, aimed at finding a cure.

Highlighting the strides of another celebrated woman, PBS Home Video Feb. 22 releases When I Rise, the story of Barbara Smith Conrad, an African-American member of the first racially integrated undergraduate class at the University of Texas in 1956.

Conrad would later become a civil rights figure through the national attention she gained once she was dismissed from an opera as the romantic lead opposite a white male classmate. She was able to emerge from the controversy and gain international recognition as a renowned mezzo-soprano performer. America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty,” Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) narrates this program.

The Stonewall Uprising, slated for release April 26 (prebook March 29), tackles another form of discrimination. This documentary recounts a divisive time in America’s history when homosexual acts were deemed illegal, causing police to heavily scrutinize the behavior of gay men and women.

Homosexuals from around the country took refuge at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York, but the harassment persisted. On June 28, 1969, the city erupted in civil unrest as the intolerance came to a head. This event is said to have marked the birth of the gay rights movement.

Each program is listed at $24.99.

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