Sunday, March 27, 2016

Local Stories Frame JACKIE ROBINSON, Latest Film by Ken Burns

Jackie Robinson may be an icon in national baseball, but his influence and inspiration also touched the personal lives of black and white Rhode Islanders alike. Moreover, Rhode Island has its own incredible stories about its Negro Minor League Baseball players and integration, and that history pre-dates Jackie Robinson by up to a decade!

Proudly, Rhode Island PBS teases these local stories of influence and inspiration through short interview segments that will air throughout April, leading up to the WSBE premiere of the Ken Burns film, Jackie Robinson on Sunday, April 17 and Monday, April 18, at 8 p.m. each night.

Dr. Charles Steinberg
Among those who will appear in the local interstitials are Dr. Charles Steinberg, president of the Pawtucket Red Sox; Branch Rickey III, the grandson of the Major League Baseball executive who signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers; Charlie Thomas, Providence ballplayer who broke racial barriers in college sports and WWII military teams - before Jackie Robinson; and Tommy Harper of the Boston Red Sox.

Currently in production, WSBE Rhode Island PBS is making a documentary using these local stories, working under the expertise of Dr. Robert Cvornyek, Rhode Island College professor of history and Negro League Baseball historian and author. Look for the documentary in time for the World Series.

Branch Rickey, III
In the meantime, baseball season starts with Jackie Robinson. Jack Roosevelt Robinson rose from humble origins to cross baseball’s color line and become one of the most beloved men in America. A fierce integrationist, Robinson used his fame to speak out against the discrimination he saw on and off the field, angering fans, the press, and even teammates who had once celebrated him for “turning the other cheek.” After baseball, he was a widely-read newspaper columnist, divisive political activist and tireless advocate for civil rights, who later struggled to remain relevant as diabetes crippled his body and a new generation of leaders set a more militant course for the civil rights movement.

Jackie Robinson, a two-part, four-hour film directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahontells the story of an American icon whose life-long battle for first class citizenship for all African Americans transcends even his remarkable athletic achievements. Join us Sunday and Monday, April 17 and 18, starting at 8 p.m.