Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange "Desert Bayou" on PBS World

Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange "Desert Bayou" on PBS World

Fri, 07/23/2010 - 7:00pm

Pictured: Family displaced by Hurricane Katrina

Credit: APT

Alex LeMay puts the spotlight on victims of Hurricane Katrina, airlifted to Utah for humanitarian assistance only to find themselves refugees in their own country.

In the wake of one of the worst natural and humanitarian disasters ever to hit American shores, the U.S. government airlifted nearly 600 African Americans to the almost entirely white state of Utah…without their knowledge. “Desert Bayou” examines whether two cultures — one black, one white — can come together in a time of utter chaos or whether their differences prove too great a challenge to overcome. Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange "Desert Bayou" airs Friday, July 23 at 7 p.m. on PBS World (cable 524/DT21.2).

In their own words, evacuees of Hurricane Katrina tell how they survived the storm of the century and ended up at a military installation in the deserts of Utah. Questions of race, politics and religion emerge through interviews with evacuees, political, military and religious leaders, community and social figures. “Desert Bayou” tells a story of loss and reunion, of sorrow and rebirth, of anger and rejoicing, but most of all…a story of hope.

Tony-winning actress Anika Noni Rose hosts the new season of AFROPOP: THE ULTIMATE CULTURAL EXCHANGE, the innovative documentary series on contemporary life, art and pop culture in the African Diaspora. Four films introduce powerful stories: African boxers journey across the Atlantic to match their skills against the best in the world; a teenage girl travels to Ghana and an expatriate from Sierra Leone returns to his homeland, each hoping to dispel prevailing myths about the two countries; and, Hurricane Katrina victims find themselves refugees in their own country.

This program is followed immediatly by an encore presentation of TAVIS SMILEY REPORT “Been in the Storm Too Long”. For his third TAVIS SMILEY REPORTS primetime special, Tavis Smiley will travel to New Orleans to capture the mood and spirit of the city’s courageous residents five years after the levees failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 

This special comes out of a ongoing collaboration between Tavis Smiley and Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme that began in 2006 when Smiley aired Demme’s documentary, Right to Return: New Home Movies From the Lower 9th Ward, as a week-long series on PBS. Demme has spent the past five years chronicling the people of New Orleans as they struggle to recover and rebuild their city. Smiley now returns to interview some of the city’s most resilient residents who share their rich cultural heritage as they rebuild schools, churches and homes against enormous odds.