The Busing Battleground and The Harvest Premiere September 2023 on PBS and Streaming on

(BOSTON, MA) — This September, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE will premiere two new documentaries that examine the deeply mixed legacy of America’s efforts to racially integrate public schools. Directed by Sharon Grimberg and Cyndee Readdean, The Busing Battleground viscerally captures the class tensions and racial violence that ensued when Black and white students in Boston were bused for the first time between neighborhoods to comply with a federal desegregation order. The Harvest is a personal and powerful look at a coalition of Black and white students, parents and teachers who integrated a small Mississippi town’s public schools in 1970.

The film is produced by Douglas A. Blackmon, one of the students and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, and Academy Award nominee Sam Pollard. Both films are executive produced by Cameo George. The Busing Battleground premieres Monday, September 11, 2023, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, and the PBS App. The Harvest premieres the following evening, Tuesday, September 12, 2023, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, and the PBS App.

“These two films — one taking place in the urban North, the other in a small Southern town and both nearly 20 years after Brown v. Board of Education made school segregation illegal — challenge our perception of how communities across the country dealt with the Supreme Court ruling,” said Cameo George, Executive Producer of American Experience. “They also remind us that this was one of the most complicated and fraught national experiments in American history. Both films are witness-driven and allow those who lived through the events on both sides of the color line to share their experiences, now with the hindsight of five decades.”

The Busing Battleground tells the story of the bitter struggle to integrate Boston’s schools. On September 12, 1974, police were stationed outside schools across the city as Black and white students were bused for the first time between neighborhoods to comply with a federal court desegregation order. The cross-town busing met with shocking violence, much of it directed at children: angry white protestors threw rocks at school buses carrying Black children and hurled racial epithets at the students as they walked into their new schools. The chaos and racial unrest would escalate and continue for years. Using eyewitness accounts, oral histories and news footage that hasn’t been seen in decades, The Busing Battleground pulls back the curtain on the volatile effort to end school segregation, detailing the decades-long struggle for educational equity that preceded the crisis. It illustrates how civil rights battles had to be fought across the North as well as the South and reckons with the class dimensions of the desegregation saga, exploring how the neighborhoods most impacted by the court’s order were the poorest in the city.

In The Harvest, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas A. Blackmon looks back at how school integration transformed his hometown of Leland, Mississippi. After the 1954 Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, little more than token efforts were made to desegregate Southern schools. That changed dramatically on October 29, 1969, when the high court ordered Mississippi schools to fully — and immediately — desegregate. As a result, a group of children, including six-year-old Blackmon, became part of the first class of Black and white children who would attend all 12 grades together in Leland. Set against vast historic and demographic changes unfolding across America, The Harvest follows a coalition of Black and white citizens working to create racially integrated public schools in a cotton town in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, the most rigidly segregated area in America. It tells the extraordinary story of how that first class became possible, then traces the lives of Blackmon and his classmates, teachers and parents from the first day through high school graduation in 1982. It is a riveting portrait of how those children’s lives were transformed and how the town — and America — were changed. But as the film follows the lives of those children into the present, it is also a portrait of what our society has lost in its failure to finish the work begun a generation ago.

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE The Busing Battleground and The Harvest will stream for free simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. The films will be available for streaming with closed captioning in English and Spanish.


For 35 years, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been television’s most-watched history series, bringing to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards and 19 George Foster Peabody Awards. PBS’s signature history series also creates original digital content that innovates new forms of storytelling to connect our collective past with the present. Cameo George is the series executive producer. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is produced for PBS by GBH Boston. Visit and follow us on Facebook Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to learn more.

Major funding for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Major funding for The Busing Battleground provided by GBH Voices and Equity Fund, members of The Better Angels Society, including The Fullerton Family Charitable Fund and Bobby and Polly Stein. Major funding for The Harvest provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Additional series funding for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE provided by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, the Documentary Investment Group, and public television viewers.

The Busing Battleground and The Harvest are distributed internationally by PBS International.