American Fault Line: Race and the American Ideal

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Wed, Mar 16, 2016
  • 8PM
RUN TIME: 1hr 30min
March 2016
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Wednesday March 16, 2016
Performances no longer available.

Ken Burns & Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in conversation with Michel Martin

Documentarian Ken Burns and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., join together to discuss the prevailing political fault line in the US: race. In this illuminating and cogent exchange, they examine why race is critical to their understanding of America and their work—and how, as a nation, we deal with race today. Their discussion is complemented with clips from Jackie Robinson, Burns's forthcoming epic about the impact and legacy of the first black baseball player to play in the major leagues, and Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise, Gates' chronicle of the civil rights movement culminating in the election of Obama. (Both films are scheduled to premiere on PBS in 2016.)

Both figures have explored how race is part of the American fabric in their work. Burns’s landmark Emmy Award-winning television series The Civil War and Gates’ unprecedented four-part series African American Lives explore not just the role African-Americans have played throughout our history, but also how race, conceptions of race, and ideas about freedom and independence influence our politics and policies. They trace the historical significance of race from abolitionism to civil rights to the war on poverty—and consider what it means to have an African-American president.

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Ken Burns

The acclaimed documentarian of Brooklyn Bridge, The Civil War, Baseball, and many others.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The eminent scholar and filmmaker best known for the PBS series Finding Your Roots.

American Fault Line
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Trailer for “Jackie Robinson”
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Michel Martin

Michel Martin is the weekend host of NPR’s All Things Considered.

American Fault Line Playlist curated by Ken Burns