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TV salutes Black History Month

Today marks the start of Black History Month. Here's a sampling of films, documentaries and specials you'll find on the small screen.

Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (today, 3-7 p.m., WEDU-Ch. 3) Four-part series tracing the racist laws of post-Reconstruction America, up to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Highwaymen: Florida's Outsider Artists (today, 7 p.m., WEDU-Ch. 3): Profile of the African-American painters who sold their work along Florida's highways in the 1960s.

Do We Need Black History Month? (today, 8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon): Linda Ellerbee explores with kids the meaning of Black History Month and asks whether it has fulfilled its aim.

Just Another Story (Monday, 8 p.m., Showtime): Hip-hop drama about an aspiring rapper (GQ) trying to make time for his budding career and friends.

Roots (Monday to Saturday, 9 p.m., Hallmark Channel): This 12-hour saga about a proud African family is just as powerful today as it was when ABC first aired it in 1977.

America Beyond the Color Line With Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Tuesday, 9 p.m., WEDU-Ch. 3): Four-hour documentary on contemporary black America. (See Monday's Floridian for Times TV/media critic Eric Deggans' interview with Gates.)

Black Filmmaker Showcase (Wednesday, 8 p.m., Showtime): Five short films will be featured.

TV Race Riot! Television's Illest Minority Moments (Wednesday, 10 p.m., VH1): Adapted from Ego Trip's Big Book of Racism, a controversial and, at times, funny look at the ethnic stereotypes and racial story lines found on TV.

Sisters in Cinema (Feb. 8, 8 p.m., Black Starz): This film pays homage to African-American filmmakers from the early 20th century to today.

Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks (Feb. 8, 7 p.m., HBO): Nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject last year, the film combines archival images and re-enactments with first-person interviews of Americans who lived through the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.

Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light (Feb. 14, 8 p.m., PBS): Documentary on the legendary actor's life and career.

The Legacy of Slavery (Feb. 15, 8:30 p.m., Nickelodeon): Linda Ellerbee examines how slavery still shapes people.

Crown Heights (Feb. 16, 9 p.m., Showtime): Based on the real-life race riots in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, the film dramatizes how two community leaders (Mario Van Peebles and Howie Mandel) strove to create a dialogue between Jewish and African-American residents.

The Forts & Castles of Ghana (Feb. 22, 1 p.m., BET): Special on the epicenter of the slave trade.

Celebration of Gospel IV (Feb. 24, 9 p.m., BET): Hosted by Steve Harvey, the special includes performances by CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin and more.

Happy To Be Nappy and Other Stories of Me (Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., HBO): Animated adaptations of classic children's books and poems narrated by, among others, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Melanie Griffith, Harvey Fierstein and Mary J. Blige.

Soul Food (Feb. 25, 10 p.m., Showtime): TV's only black drama returns for its fifth _ and final _ season.

Beah: A Black Woman Speaks (Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., HBO): Provocative conversations between actor Lisa Gay Hamilton (The Practice) and her friend, activist, poet and actor Beah Richards, who discusses life in the segregated South; her fight for civil rights alongside Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois; and her 50 years in film and TV and onstage.