‘Jackie Robinson’ Documentary Premieres on PBS

Ken Burns new documentary on the life and legend of Jackie Robinson go beyond telling the story of Robinson's barrier-breaking career as a baseball player, and chronicle the life of a husband, father, and political activist.

Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson (Courtesy of Hulton Archive Getty Images)

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In our baseball special collector’s edition, we interviewed Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns whose 1994 TV documentary Baseball covered the history of the game and a look back on the ground-breaking career of Jackie Robinson. Shortly after the 1994 documentary debuted, Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson, asked Burns if he’d be interested in filming a documentary based on the life of her husband. Burns agreed, noting that he’s “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.”

Below, co-directors Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, discuss their new film Jackie Robinson.

The first part of the four-hour documentary premieres tonight, April 11, on PBS.

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