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New TV Documentary about Wilberforce Starts Airing in February

'THE BETTER HOUR: The Legacy of William Wilberforce'


Airs Nationwide on Public Television in time for Black History Month


Contact: Sheila Weber, VP Communications, 646-322-6853,  


NEW YORK, Jan. 30 /Standard Newswire/ -- In time for Black History Month, an inspiring, new one-hour television documentary, "THE BETTER HOUR: The Legacy of William Wilberforce," will appear nationwide on public television beginning in February, 2008.  The film was produced to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the 1807 abolition of British and American slave trade in a 20-year heroic effort led by British Parliamentarian William Wilberforce. (Effective date of U.S. legislation was January, 1808.)   


Shot in high definition, "THE BETTER HOUR: The Legacy of William Wilberforce" is an engaging documentary, rich with content and commentary, that can inspire people with the remarkable story of William Wilberforce. He used his position as a British parliamentarian to launch 69 organizations for the betterment of society and end the trans-Atlantic slave trade­­­­—a business that was key to the country's economic strength.

Once, everyone knew the name William Wilberforce. Frederick Douglas said, "Let no man forget the name of William Wilberforce." A quarter century after Wilberforce's death, Abraham Lincoln said, "Every school boy knows the name of William Wilberforce."  Yet "few American today understand why, or even know Wilberforce's name," explains executive producer Cullen Schippe.


The film focuses on a politician who, over time, developed strength of character in the service of high and seemingly unattainable goals. This film highlights William Wilberforce's drive and love for humanity and reveals how he and his colleagues worked tirelessly to end the slave trade, even as it represented a large portion of the British economy. In Wilberforce, we see character and a sense of justice for all join together to bring into the world what the English poet William Cowper described as "the better hour."  


"This film does an outstanding job of bringing into sharp focus how the passion, persistence and actions of one man changed the course of history and worked to rid the world of the great evil of trafficking in human life," says Marshall Mitchell, Vice Chancellor of Wilberforce University, the second oldest historic black college in the United States.


Wilberforce's compassion, self-discipline, and respect for others offer lessons for a contemporary audience on how to change the world for the better—peacefully and definitively. In the world of politics William Wilberforce's political career is a case study that not only merits attention, but also can inspire others to see the potential for great good in a political life that is built on strength of character rather than expediency. "Wilberforce," says WTIU Public Television Executive Producer Steve Krahnke, "shows us that it is possible to join a religious faith with political will—not as a means to convert unbelievers, but as a means to help make the world a better place for everyone regardless of their beliefs."


Narrated by Avery Brooks, the film features interviews with leading authors, historians and public figures from both the U.K. and the United States, including the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, Wilberforce expert Kevin Belmonte, historian James Walvin, Newton Scholar Marylyn Rouse, Wilberforce University president and former Congressman Floyd Flake, and author Eric Metaxas, among others.  


Underwriting support is provided by the John Templeton Foundation. TWC films in association with WTIU and directors, Phil Cooke and Brian Mead, produced the program. Cullen Schippe, Executive Producer and writer of the film, has more than 35 years experience producing educational media for the classroom and for broadcast. In 2004 he retired as the publisher for Music, Religion, and Social Studies for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.  


The Heartland Film Festival selected the film as a featured documentary in October 2007. "THE BETTER HOUR" DVD is available at, and local broadcast information can be found at