PBS Wisconsin launches racial justice digital series

In the News

PBS Wisconsin is producing a nine-part digital series focused on important issues affecting Wisconsin’s Black communities titled “Why Race Matters.”

In the new series, host Angela Fitzgerald interviews Black Wisconsinites about race, identity, and achieving racial equity in the state. Through conversations with experts, artists, community organizers, and health professionals, viewers will hear the historical context to modern issues impacting our state’s Black residents, including mental health, civic engagement, maternal well-being, the school-to-prison pipeline, agriculture, and land ownership.

“Why Race Matters” is now available for viewing on all PBS Wisconsin digital platforms. Subsequent episodes will premiere 7 p.m. Wednesdays at pbswisconsin.org/whyracematters. Episodes can also be viewed on the free PBS app on Roku, other digital streaming devices, and smart TVs.

In the summer of 2020, with an urgent and amplified national conversation about race following the killing of George Floyd, Angela Fitzgerald, host of PBS Wisconsin’s “Wisconsin Life,” felt moved to use her role in public media to help localize the discussion about improving the conditions of Black Americans. Out of this comes “Why Race Matters,” an extension of Fitzgerald’s commitment to foster a Wisconsin that repairs its stark racial disparities and achieves equity for Black people living in the state.  

Each episode of the digital series sets up the conversation with background and context about the history of a systemic issue. In-depth interview conversations between Fitzgerald and her guests follow, where personal stories and how they relate to the larger topic are shared.

“We are building out a library of resources to accompany each episode to reflect that way of thinking,” Fitzgerald said. “Here are some organizations, here are some things you can read up on, other things to help that energy maintain itself, to hopefully lead to whatever action makes sense. That is the hope, that there’s encouragement, there’s enlightenment, there’s motivation, there’s mobilization but definitely education and a call to action being the two parts that we hope every single person that views it takes away.”

Fitzgerald has an extensive academic background in the social sciences, including an emphasis on addressing racial disparities experienced by historically marginalized communities. She is currently involved in research on the racial wealth gap and how best to support the financial well-being of historically marginalized communities. In addition to her work with PBS Wisconsin, Fitzgerald currently serves as the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD’s) Director of Family, Youth and Community Engagement. In that role, she leads a team that employs data-driven equity strategies to build the capacity of MMSD staff and families to support successful home-school-community partnerships.

“Why Race Matters” was made possible through support and funding from CUNA Mutual Group, Park Bank, Alliant Energy, UW Health, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Focus Fund for Wisconsin Programming, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.