Hermene Hartman’s BHM Series on NBC 5 Unveils Powerful, Untold Stories

For media pioneer Hermene Hartman, Black History Month is about sharing real stories about African-American life that don’t get talked about as often but reverberate to this day.

“It’s all about complicating the narrative,” Hartman told The Chicago Defender in a phone interview, “We have to go beyond the slave narratives and the comedic stories. 

Hartman, a multiple Emmy nominee, has done just that. She has dedicated her life to telling these stories through her legendary publication N’DIGO, her full-service public relations firm, and, most recently, as the creator and producer of her N’DIGO STUDIO talk show.

Hartman’s N’DIGO STUDIO is featuring a five-part, Black History-themed television series on NBC 5 Chicago.  

On Saturday, Feb. 3, her show will premier an episode entitled “The Aftermath of Emmett Till’s Murder,” which features three Black men who were around the same age as Till when he was brutally tortured and lynched for whistling at a White woman. Through her guests’ accounts, viewers get to intimately learn the true psychic and emotional impact of Till’s death and why his case continues to echo through these present times. 


In talking about Till, Hartman mentions the pivotal role that Black Press publications like The Chicago Defender and Jet Magazine played in breaking Till’s story and humanizing him when many White and mainstream publications didn’t even print his name in stories about his death.  

When asked what struck her most about that episode, Hartman mentioned the utter fear her guests had as young boys in the aftermath of Till’s death.

“One of the men I interviewed talked about being afraid of being lynched by just going to the store,” she said. 

Other episodes in the series feature distinguished guests like Cornel West, Jackie Taylor, Jonathan Eig, John Palfrey and Steve Rogers, who touch on topics like reparations, building cultural community, race and politics and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I am excited to be sharing with audiences the innovative, compelling, history-making and sometimes controversial stories of Black leaders that for too long, and too often are missing,” Hartman said.

Through this N’DIGO STUDIO series, viewers are treated to trenchant, thought-provoking information and commentary that ultimately deepens their understanding of Black history, the Black present and the Black future.

Here’s the N’DIGO STUDIO Black History series lineup, with all programs airing on NBC 5 Chicago at 1 a.m. CDT. The shows are rebroadcast on Channel 25 in Chicago only on Mondays at 8 p.m., Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 11 a.m.  

Jan. 27: “King: A Life” 

Hermene hosts an exclusive in-depth interview with Jonathan Eig on his New York Times best-selling and award-winning biography, “King, A Life.” Hermene and Eig will discuss growing up as “Michael,” the newly de-classified information from the government and much more that is encapsulated in the first biography written on Dr. King in over 35 years.

Feb. 3: The Aftermath of Emmett Till’s Murder

Hermene talks with three men who were the same age as Till when he was murdered in 1955 and had them share personal stories on how Till’s death changed their lives forever. The three men would have successful careers in business, education, and human relations. However, Till’s murder continues to shape and define their lives to this day. 

Feb. 10: Reparations

Hermene explores the topic of reparations through the lens of two Harvard graduates and professors. Her guests include John Palfrey, President of The MacArthur Foundation, who looks at reparations from a philanthropic viewpoint. And Steve Rogers, author of  A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues, also an entrepreneur and economist, presents the economics argument for reparations.

Feb. 17: Building a Cultural Community

Jackie Taylor, founder of the Black Ensemble Theater and a recent major grant recipient from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, joins Hermene to discuss the formula for creating a cultural community where people want to go to live, work and visit.    

Feb. 24: Dr. Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West, a scholar and 2024 presidential candidate, talks with Hermene about the recent verdict on affirmative action, banning books, race, jazz, and politics.  

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