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Ken Burns on How Race Is the Common Thread in His Work + Why Jackie Robinson’s Story Is Still So Relevant

Ken Burns on How Race Is the Common Thread in His Work + Why Jackie Robinson's Story Is Still So Relevant

Here’s a first look at Ken Burns’ upcoming 2-part/4-hour Jackie Robinson documentary that will premiere as part of PBS’ winter/spring primetime lineup this year. The network has officially set April 11 and 12 premiere dates, from  9-11 pm ET on each night.

Titled simply “Jackie Robinson,” the film – co-directed and produced by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon – will memorialize the life of the legend, who was the first African American player in Major League Baseball.

“Jackie Robinson is the most important figure in our nation’s most important game,” said Ken Burns. “He gave us our first lasting progress in civil rights since the Civil War and, ever since I finished my BASEBALL series in 1994, I’ve been eager to make a stand-alone film about the life of this courageous American. There was so much more to say not only about Robinson’s barrier-breaking moment in 1947, but about how his upbringing shaped his intolerance for any form of discrimination and how after his baseball career he spoke out tirelessly against racial injustice, even after his star had begun to dim.”

In addition to family members Rachel, Sharon and David Robinson, “Jackie Robinson” features interviews with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama; former Dodgers teammates Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine and Ralph Branca; writers Howard Bryant and Gerald Early; Harry Belafonte; Tom Brokaw; and Carly Simon. Jamie Foxx is the voice of Jackie Robinson, reading excerpts from his newspaper columns, personal letters and autobiographies.

The documentary is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, D.C. in association with the MLB.

Last night, Ken Burns stopped by last night’s “Late Show” where he talked about how race is the common thread in all of his work, and why Jackie Robinson’s story is still so relevant today in relationship to matters like “Stop and Frisk,” “Driving While Black,” #BlackLivesMatter, and more. Watch the appearance below which includes a clip from the series; and tune in on April 11 and 12 (next week Monday and Tuesday) for the 4-hour comprehensive documentary.

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