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WHEN I RISE PREMIERES ON THE PBS SERIES INDEPENDENT LENS ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2011 AT 10 PM ET

An object lesson on living life with dignity and grace, When I Rise will premiere on the Emmy® Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by America Ferrera, on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 10 PM ET (check local listings).

When I Rise is the uplifting story of Barbara Smith Conrad, a gifted University of Texas music student who finds herself at the epicenter of racial controversy, struggling against the odds and ultimately ascending to the heights of international opera. The film is a production of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and was directed by Mat Hames, produced by James Moll and Michael Rosen, executive produced by Don Carleton, and made possible in part by AT&T.

In 1957, Barbara Smith Conrad, who was part of the first racially integrated undergraduate class at the University of Texas, became the central figure in a civil rights storm that changed her life forever. Cast in an opera as the romantic lead opposite a white male student, Conrad became embroiled in a bitter controversy that made its way to the halls of the Texas legislature, where segregationist representatives applied pressure on the university. When Conrad was expelled from the opera the incident escalated to the national stage, prompting singer Harry Belafonte — then at the height of his fame — to offer to underwrite her studies at the institution of her choice.

Rather than flee, Conrad chose to stay at the University of Texas and complete her degree, graduating in 1959. This small-town girl, whose voice and spirit stem from her roots in East Texas, emerged from the incident to become an internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano and headliner on stages around the world.

About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 PM on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Presented by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is supported by interactive companion websites, national publicity, and community engagement campaigns. Further information about the series is available at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/when-i-rise/. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.

For more information, please contact:
Voleine Amilcar, ITVS 415-356-8383 x 244 voleine_amilcar@itvs.org
Mary Lugo 770-623-8190 lugo@negia.net
Cara White 843-881-1480 cara.white@mac.com
 

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