Ken Burns's "Jackie Robinson" celebrates American hero

Historians in the News
tags: Jackie Robinson, Ken Burns



Jackie Robinson was not the best baseball player who ever lived, but renowned filmmaker Ken Burnsmakes a strong argument that he was the most important one.

Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers infielder who broke baseball’s infamous color barrier in 1947, advanced America’s pastime and the nation, says Burns, who directed the two-part Jackie Robinson (PBS, Monday and Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/PT) with his daughter, Sarah Burns, and son-in-law, David McMahon.

“He’s a really good baseball player. He’s in the Hall of Fame. But this is about bigger things than that,” says Burns, whose earlier documentaries include The Civil War and Baseball. Robinson’s achievement, coordinated by Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, “is baseball’s finest moment.”

The film arrives the same week as Jackie Robinson Day, which baseball celebrates on April 15.

Burns notes the historical significance of the arrival of Robinson, a multi-sport star at UCLA. (Burns contends that the hostility Robinson faced, and not just health problems, led to his early death at 53.) ...




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