Exploring America through PBS American Portrait

Self-shot stories reveal the meaning of the American dream and what it means to pursue it today.

  • Fred Vigeant
Watch PBS American Portrait beginning Tuesday, January 5 at 9:00pm on WITF. You can stream WITF TV live on our website and through the PBS Video app on Roku, Apple TV and iPhone and Android smartphones. The program is also available on-demand through the PBS Video app.


PBS American Portrait is an on-going multiplatform project.  Since it launched in January 2020, the PBS American Portrait website has collected more than 11,000 stories from people across America that, together, hope to answer the question: What does it really mean to be an American today? Millions of people visited the site throughout 2020 to explore user-submitted stories in response to a series of thought-provoking prompts and the events of 2020 in real time. These stories helped share the themes reflected in the four-part docuseries.

The series blends stories filmed by everyday people to create a chorus of voices sharing both common and unique experiences from across the country. Each episode in the series focuses on a main theme—“I Dream,” about our varied pursuits of the American Dream; “I Work,” about the aspirations, struggles and satisfaction in our careers; “I Keep,” about the traditions and values we hold; and “I Rise,” about working to create an antiracist America. These experiences yield complex and diverse stories of what brings us together and what keeps us apart as we strive to understand one another.

The series premieres with “I Dream” Tuesday, January 5 at 9:00pm. Self-shot stories explore the meaning and state of the American dream. From the desire for homeownership to ambitions for higher education or career success, they show the hard work, opportunities and barriers that come with pursuing this ideal today. The main stories featured are Mahsa A. from Fairfax, Virginia; Tyler M. & Bre R. from Joliet, Illinois; and Gunnar J. from Unalakleet, Alaska.

The four-part series broadcasts on WITF Tuesdays at 9:00pm beginning January 5.

Stay tuned later this month for stories from across the region as part of PBS American Portrait. You can also be part of WITF’s production of regional stories for PBS American Portrait. WITF wants you to be featured in this effort to create a communal space for collecting and sharing stories in PBS American Portrait! Everyone is welcome!

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