On the heels of last week’s rebroadcast of John Ridley’s powerful 2017 documentary Let It Fall, about the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, ABC is again reaching into its vaults from 2017 for a re-broadcast of the two-hour special Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories that Changed America. The network special, which originally aired on January 11, 2017, commemorated the opening of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. Quincy Jones and Don Mischer teamed to produce the momentous event, and in light of everything that has happened in this country in the weeks since George Floyd’s horrendous death, the pair felt the time could not be better to bring this program back.
Mischer tells Deadline that when he and Jones sent a letter to Bob Iger suggesting an encore of the special, he responded enthusiastically to the idea within 10 minutes. “Its emotional moments resonated with all of us, regardless of the color of our skin. In these tumultuous times, these stories need to be heard again. Now more than ever,” Mischer said. “The show includes everything from live music to singing, to comedy, to rap, to dancing in the aisles, and a few tears as well. It was created from the very fabric of four centuries of African-American history, which is an essential part of and inevitably shapes our common and current history.”
Among the highlights:
- Tom Hanks paying tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, with surprise appearances by the West Point Choir and Gen. Colin Powell
- Mary J. Blige singing “My Country Tis of Thee,” as did Marion Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, after being denied an appearance at Constitution Hall
- Dave Chappelle talking about black comedians as his source of inspiration
- John Legend performing “What’s Goin’ On” from the civil rights struggle in the ’60s
- Will Smith on rap, leading into Common reading Langston Hughes
- Stevie Wonder’s powerful soliloquy on what it means to be a Black man in America
Originally presented during President Obama’s last few days in office, Mischer and Jones say the response to Taking the Stage was extraordinary. “Our collective teams received positively overwhelming feedback from viewers who expressed everything from gratitude, to celebration, to inspired action,” he said.
Believing it can have even more of a positive impact in the current environment, the pair felt its importance cannot be overstated and are urgently trying to spread the word in letting viewers and the industry know about the re-broadcast.
It airs on ABC tonight from 8-10 p.m.