Black experiences unpacked in Tuesday premiere of ABC’s ‘Soul of a Nation’

by Sherrie Kolade

Our voices will be heard — our experiences as Black Americans revealed.

That is the goal of ABC News, to broadcast the lives of Black people in this country post-George Floyd’s death, through the launching of their original primetime newscast, the first broadcast network newsmagazine in a six-episode series, “Soul of a Nation.”

An ABC News article reported that this series, launching at 10/9c on Tuesday on ABC, will feature the “authentic realities” of Black life and focus on the deeper meaning of today’s critical juncture the country is at when it comes to racial reckoning, according to the story. The episodes will cover a specific theme including spirituality, Black joy, activism in sports, and the racial reckoning that erupted after George Floyd’s death, according to the post. Episodes can also be viewed the next day on demand and on Hulu.

Jemele Hill, Marsai Martin, and others are among the special guest hosts for each episode with interviews and reporting by ABC News anchors and correspondents, including Adrienne Bankert, Linsey Davis, T.J. Holmes, Sunny Hostin, Janai Norman, Steve Osunsami, Byron Pitts, Deborah Roberts, David Scott and Pierre Thomas, and ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, according to the article. Additional guest hosts will be announced at a later date.

“We’re excited to expand enterprising Black storytelling and the celebration of Black culture beyond the month of February,” said co-executive producer Eric Johnson in the article. “Viewers of all backgrounds, regardless of race, will be moved, educated, and inspired by the broad range of stories and topics shared on this show.”

“Soul of a Nation” travels across the U.S., looking into important issues to Black Americans through personal storytelling. Episodes will bridge the past, present, and future through a number of voices and experiences from athletes, entertainers, performers, and screenwriters, including Carmelo Anthony, Nick Cannon, Deon Cole, Kim Coles, Tommy Davidson, Mo’Ne Davis, Danny Glover, David Alan Grier, Wood Harris, Janaya Future Khan, Renee Montgomery, Sylvia Obell, Jeneé Osterheldt, Chris Paul, John Ridley, Saweetie, Michael Yo, The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth, Soraya McDonald, Marc Spears, and Justin Tinsley, and ESPN’s Lisa Salters and Maria Taylor, according to the article.

Viewers will meet the amazing individuals like 95-year-old Lucille Burden Osborne, the great-granddaughter of Charles McGruder – her enslaved ancestor who was sent to neighboring plantations as a breeder but created a home for his many children after emancipation; get a more in-depth look and day in the life of some of TikTok’s most influential young Black content creators to understand the business behind their brands; and learn about Afrofuturism as a philosophy, aesthetic, genre and tool for social empowerment, according to the article. A special performance featuring some of the nation’s best musicians, like Cynthia Erivo, or spoken-word artists will close out each episode. “It’s time,” co-executive producer Robe Imbriano said in the article. “‘Soul of a Nation’ arrives as the country is eager for a show like this, and the mix of intimate and insightful storytelling with performance will bring some serious joy.”

The executive creative team also includes Chantre Camack, executive editorial producer, and James Adolphus, series director.

Series creator Marie Nelson is senior vice president of Integrated Content Strategy at ABC News. “ABC News is proud to partner with ABC Entertainment to host ‘Soul of a Nation,’ a primetime convening place for diverse audiences to call home. It’s 2021 and the demands of this time call upon the media community to grant Black viewers more opportunities to see their lives reflected in all of its complexity and to present all of our audience access points to gain understanding,” said Nelson in the article.

“Soul of a Nation” is the latest original programming from ABC News which has refreshed its focus on telling diverse stories across the news division.

Previous programming includes the No. 1-rated “Juneteenth: A Celebration of Overcoming,” three-day division-wide series “Pandemic – A Nation Divided” on the disparity in race and class amid COVID-19, “America in Pain: What Comes Next?” on the protests and outrage across the country in response to the killing of George Floyd and police brutality and systemic racism against Black Americans, the month-long reporting series “Turning Point” and pre-election special “America’s Future: The Power of the Latino Vote.”

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