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Ken Burns' America

Premier :: 1982-05-01

on PBS

Genre :: Documentary
8/10


Ken Burns' America poster

Summary

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Ken’s films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” A December 2002 poll conducted by RealScreen Magazine listed The Civil War as second only to Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North as the “most influential documentary of all time” and named Ken Burns and Robert Flaherty as the “most influential documentary makers” of all time.

Latest Episode

Series 1 - Episode 19 - Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (1)
Aired - 01 January 2005

Episode summary:

Unforgivable Blackness tells the story of the first African-American boxer to win the most coveted title in all of sports and his struggle, in and out of the ring, to live his life as a free man. The film follows Jack Johnson’s remarkable journey from his humble beginnings in Galveston, Texas, as the son of former slaves, to his entry into the brutal world of professional boxing, where, in turn-of-the-century Jim Crow America, the heavyweight champion was an exclusively “white title.” Despite the odds, Johnson was able to batter his way up through the professional ranks, and in 1908 he became the first African-American to earn the title Heavyweight Champion of the World. Johnson’s victory set in motion a worldwide search for a Great White Hope to restore the title to the white race. And when no one could be found to beat the champion in the ring, his own government tried to destroy him in the courts, using his relationship with white women as the excuse to prosecute him. Determined to live his life regardless of the confines imposed by his color, Jack Johnson emerges as a central figure in America’s ongoing struggle to deal with the question of race.

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