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AETN to host screenings of Ken Burns's 'Jackie Robinson' April 9-10

Posted 07 Apr 2016

The Arkansas Educational Television Network will host two screenings of 'Jackie Robinson,' a new documentary directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, in Little Rock. The film tells the story of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who rose from humble origins to break baseball's color barrier and waged a fierce lifelong battle for first-class citizenship for all African-Americans that transcends even his athletic achievements. 'Jackie Robinson' will premiere on AETN Monday and Tuesday, April 11 and 12, at 8 each night.

The public is invited to the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 West 9th Street, Little Rock, Saturday, April 9, at 1 p.m. for a free screening and panel discussion organized by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute on Race and Ethnicity. Panelists for the discussion include: William "Youngblood" McCrary, who was recruited by the Negro Leagues before graduating high school and played with Robinson and Satchel Page for the Kansas City Monarchs; Al Ashley, private collector of Robinson memorabilia; and Dr. Barclay Key, UALR professor of history who teaches a class on sports and American culture. Dr. John Kirk, director of the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity, will moderate.

On Sunday, April 10, AETN will host Jackie Robinson night at Dickey Stephens Park, providing a screening of the film at 4:30 p.m. with paid admission to the Arkansas Travelers game.

Additionally, AETN and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Arkansas Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities initiative will kick off a new season at Lamar Porter Field, 3200 West 7th Street, Little Rock, on Sunday, April 24, from 1-4 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Donations of new and used sporting equipment will be accepted for participants in the RBI program, and scholarship opportunities will be available for children interested in joining the program.

Born in 1919 to tenant farmers in rural Georgia and raised in Pasadena, California, Robinson challenged institutional racism long before he integrated Major League Baseball. As a teenager, he demanded service at a Woolworth's lunch counter and refused to sit in the segregated balcony at a local movie theater. In 1944, while serving as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Robinsonwas arrested after he defied an order from a civilian bus driver to move to the back of a military bus. He was found not guilty.

In the spring of 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey signed Robinson to a major league contract. To help ensure the success of their endeavor, and protect the big league prospects of future black players, Robinson agreed to ignore the threats and abuse that Rickey assured him he would face. That season, Robinson kept his word, remaining silent while he dazzled fans with his brilliant play and helped lead the Dodgers to the National League pennant. By the end of the year, he was the most famous black man in the country and, in one poll, finished second only to Bing Crosby as the most popular American.

After baseball, Robinson continued to use his immense fame to elevate the civil rights movement, voicing his views through a widely read newspaper column, raising money for the NAACP and Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and campaigning vigorously for candidates he believed would work to improve the lives of African-Americans.

The film features extensive interviews with Robinson's widow, Rachel, and their surviving children, Sharon and David, who witnessed firsthand how resistant society could be to equality.

In addition to 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.

Funding for the film is provided by Bank of America; Public Broadcasting Service; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; Dalio Foundation; Mr. Jack C. Taylor; and members of The Better Angels Society, including Jessica & John Fullerton and John & Catherine Debs.

'Jackie Robinson' is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, DC, in association with Major League Baseball. It is directed and produced by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon; written by David McMahon and Sarah Burns; edited by Lewis Erskine, A.C.E., George O'Donnell and Ted Raviv; cinematography by Buddy Squires, A.S.C.; original music by Wynton Marsalis and Doug Wamble; narrated by Keith David. Series advisors include Kevin Baker, Adrian Burgos, William E. Leuchtenburg; John Thorn, Khadijah White and Craig Steven Wilder.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit aetn.org. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).