Ken Tucker
February 26, 2009 AT 12:00 PM EST

I strongly commend to your attention The Black List, Vol. 2, the second installment of interviews with black performers, artists, activists, and one Episcopal bishop, on HBO tonight, 8 p.m./EST. From Laurence Fishburne to Maya Rudolph, from Tyler Perry to Angela Davis, these brief, striking interviews — the subjects face the camera and talk, casually, engagingly, with wit and sometimes bittersweet wryness — about what it’s been like for them to grow up black in America.

Don’t tune in expecting to be lectured to. These folks each have unique stories to tell and ideas to impart, and interviewer Elvis Mitchell (off-camera, never heard) elicits choice moments. I loved hearing SNL‘s Rudolph talk about her mixed-race parentage and how that’s influenced her worldview, and admit to getting goosebumps seeing Angela Davis, her famous 1960s Afro now calmed, speak about the “excitement” of the counterculture era, and how now, when people meet her, they frequently react with joy. Not because they’re meeting someone who was once famous, but because, as she puts it, “I’m a vehicle for time travel” — to a time when “we were going to change the world… we knew we could.”

You May Like