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April 8, 2016

Play Ball! THIRTEEN Delves into Ken Burn’s Newest Documentary

April 2016 THIRTEEN PG CoverApril marks the official beginning of the 2016 Major League Baseball season. It also marks the premiere of Jackie Robinson, a new film from Ken Burns (The Civil War, The Roosevelts). Burns applies his love of baseball and his unparalleled documentary skill to take a closer look at the life and legacy of Robinson, whose courageous first steps opened up America’s game to players of color and foreshadowed decades of change for African Americans.

As America’s pastime, baseball long had an appeal to fans that crossed barriers of race, generation, and economics. But in the wake of World War II, the fields of major league baseball remained off limits to African American players. Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson became the player who changed that narrative permanently, when he caught the eye of Branch Rickey, President and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In his 10-year baseball career, Robinson went on to win the Rookie of the Year in 1947, Major League Baseball’s MVP Award in 1949, played in six all-star games, won one World Series title, and was the first African American inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1962. But his story transcends baseball. “Jackie Robinson is the most important figure in our nation’s most important game,” said Burns, who directed and produced the film with Sarah Burns and David McMahon. “He gave us our first lasting progress in civil rights since the Civil War.” Martin Luther King, Jr. once called Robinson “a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”

After baseball, Robinson held a leadership position within the NAACP, was an executive for Chock Full O’ Nuts, and helped establish the Freedom National Bank in Harlem. He died in 1972 at the age of 53.

The film is also a warm portrait of a loving and devoted husband and father, featuring extensive interviews with Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and their surviving children, Sharon and David, who witnessed firsthand how resistant society could be to equality for African Americans, even their enormously popular father.

Learn more about Jackie Robinson in the April THIRTEEN 2016 Program Guide. And tune-in to the two-part documentary series on:

Monday, April 11 and Tuesday, April 12 at 8pm

Sundays, April 17 & 24 at 9pm

Thursdays, April 21 & 28 at 8pm

Watch video previews and more at thirteen.org/kenburns.

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