Ken Burns and Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will lead a conversation on race in America in a series of events beginning in Charleston, S.C. on December 9th. Events will also take place in Washington, DC and other markets in March, building up to the premiere of their new films on PBS: Burns’s JACKIE ROBINSON on April 11 and 12 and Gates’ BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE on April 18 and 19 (check local listings).
Ticket sales from the Charleston discussion, “American Fault Line: Race and the American Ideal,” will support the International African American Museum. The event will take place on Wednesday, December 9th from 7- 8:30 pm at The Charleston Gaillard Center (95 Calhoun Street). Mayor Joseph P. Riley will attend and deliver remarks. For information on tickets, please visit www.gaillardcenter.com.
Mayor Riley said, “Ken Burns and Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. are both highly respected in their fields. It is an honor that they have chosen to kick-off their event series in Charleston. Having discussions and learning more about African American history and race relations is critically important, so it is suiting that this event will help to raise money for the International African American Museum, which will be built in Charleston on the site of Gadsden’s Wharf.”
The two-part, four-hour JACKIE ROBINSON, directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, tells the story of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who rose from humble origins to cross baseball’s color line and become one of the most beloved men in America. A fierce integrationist, Robinson used his immense fame to speak out against the discrimination he saw on and off the field, angering fans, the press, and even teammates who had once celebrated him for “turning the other cheek.” After baseball, he was a widely read newspaper columnist, political activist and tireless advocate for civil rights, who later struggled to remain relevant as diabetes crippled his body and a new generation of leaders set a more militant course for the civil rights movement.
The two-part, four-hour BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE, hosted and written by Dr. Gates., who is also an executive producer with Dyllan McGee, Peter Kunhardt, Dalton Delan and Anne Harrington, leads viewers on a journey through the last half-century of the African American experience. The film traces the unimaginable progress made since Martin Luther King, Jr. helped lead the civil rights movement to its greatest legal victories — an extraordinary fifty-year odyssey culminating in a thriving black upper middle class, unparalleled black cultural influence, and our nation’s first black president. Nevertheless, the percentage of black children living in poverty remains about the same as it was when Dr. King was alive, showing that we still have a long way to go before we can say we have achieved his dream of racial equality.
“Race is at the core of the American story,” said Mr. Burns. “It is there at the center of our history and at the edges. It is integral to our understanding of the past — and as such our hope for the future. As a country we need to come to grips with this history. You can only do that through conversation. We are hopeful that our films spur a dialogue across the nation, one that helps all of us better understand what we share, both in our past and in our dreams for the future.”
“The past half-century has been a period of remarkable progress in race relations in America,” said Dr. Gates. “Yet we are constantly reminded that many people of color still live a very different experience than their white counterparts, and there are still formidable walls that divide us. The only way to break down these walls is by communicating and better understanding our shared history and our shared vision for the future.”
JACKIE ROBINSON is a co-production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C. Funding is provided by Bank of America; PBS; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; and members of the Better Angels Society, including Jessica and John Fullerton and the Dalio Foundation.
BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE is a production of Inkwell Films, McGee Media, Kunhardt Films and WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Ark Media. Major corporate support is provided by Bank of America and Johnson & Johnson. Major foundation support is provided by the Abby and Howard Milstein Foundation, in partnership with Hoover Milstein and Emigrant Bank; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Ford Foundation; Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.
WETA Washington, D.C., is one of the largest producing stations of new content for public television in the United States. Other WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NEWSHOUR, WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL, THE KENNEDY CENTER MARK TWAIN PRIZE, IN PERFORMANCE AT THE WHITE HOUSE, and various documentaries, including THE PILGRIMS on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, premiering November 24, 2015. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.