Join us this spring for biographies and profiles of influential figures who have shaped the world we live in today.
Monday, March 19
“Jackie Robinson” at 8 p.m.
Examine the life and times of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who in 1947 lifted a nation and an entire race on his shoulders when he crossed baseball’s color line. Ken Burns reveals fascinating stories about the legend’s life on and off the field. In Part 1, see how Robinson rose from humble origins to integrate Major League Baseball, performing brilliantly despite threats and abuse on and off the field. In the process, he was able to challenge prejudiced notions of what a black man can achieve. Watch clips.
Tuesday, March 20
“Al Capone: Icon” at 7 p.m.
Even 80 years after the height of his power, the mention of Al Capone’s name sparks images of pinstripe suits and ruthless murders. Explore Capone’s enduring impact on American culture and why people are still so fascinated by this celebrity gangster. Watch online.
“Jackie Robinson” (Ken Burns) at 8 p.m.
In Part 2 of Ken Burns’ documentary, Robinson uses his fame to speak out against injustice, alienating many who once lauded him for “turning the other cheek.” After baseball, he seeks ways to fight inequality, but as he faces a crippling illness, he struggles to remain relevant. Watch clips.
Friday, March 23
“Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo” at 8 p.m. – New
Explore the life of radical Chicano counter-cultural icon Oscar Zeta Acosta – the basis for Dr. Gonzo in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The author of two groundbreaking autobiographical novels, Acosta’s powerful literary voice, brash courtroom style and notorious revolutionary antics made him a revered figure within the Chicano movement, and offered one of the most brazen, frontal assaults on white supremacy seen at the time. From his origins in segregated rural California, to his stint as a Baptist missionary in Panama, his radicalization in the Chicano movement of the ’60s, to his mysterious disappearance in Mexico in 1974, director Phillip Rodriguez offers us a complex figure emblematic of a generation. This untold story probes issues of racial identity, criminal justice, and media representation while revealing the personal story of a troubled and brilliant man coming to terms with his identity and finding meaning in the struggles of his people. Watch online.
“Hawking” at 9 p.m.
Celebrate the life and accomplishments of Stephen Hawking, one of the most remarkable minds of the modern age. Told in his own words and with unique access to his home and public life, this personal journey through Hawking’s world joins him at home with his nursing team, in San Jose as he “wows” a packed audience, in Silicon Valley as he meets technicians who hope to speed up his communication system and more. Plus, follow Hawking’s life journey from boyhood underachiever to PhD genius and his diagnosis with motor neuron disease. Watch via Passport.
Tuesday, March 27
“Carole King: American Masters” at 7 p.m.
Delve into the hit singer-songwriter’s life and career from 1960s New York to the music mecca of ’70s LA to the present. King joins collaborators and family in new interviews, while rare home movies, performances and photos complete the tapestry. Watch via Passport.
“Independent Lens: Dolores” at 8 p.m. – New
Meet the indomitable Dolores Huerta, who tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside César Chávez. One of the most important, yet least known activists of our time, Huerta was an equal partner in founding the first farm workers union. She evolved into one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century — and she continues the fight to this day, at 87. With unprecedented access to this intensely private mother of 11, “Dolores” chronicles Huerta’s life from her childhood in Stockton to her early years with the United Farm Workers, her work with the headline-making grape boycott launched in 1965, her role in the feminist movement of the ’70s and her continued work as a fearless activist. Featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Luis Valdez, Hillary Clinton, Angela Davis, her children and more, “Dolores” is an intimate and inspiring portrait of a passionate champion of the oppressed and an indomitable woman willing to accept the personal sacrifices involved in committing one’s life to social change. Watch online.
Tuesday, April 3
“Roads to Memphis: American Experience” at 7 p.m.
Discover the wildly disparate yet fatefully entwined stories of an assassin, James Earl Ray, and his target, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., against the backdrop of the seething and turbulent forces in American society that led these two men to their violent and tragic collision in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. (Also Thu. 4/5 at 2 a.m.) Watch online.
Stay tuned at 8 p.m. for the first half of “Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise,” a journey through the last 50 years of African American history with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Part 2 airs the following night at 8 p.m. (Watch now via Passport: Part 1. Part 2.)
Friday, April 6
“Walt Disney: American Experience” at 8 p.m.
Explore the complex life and enduring legacy of one of America’s most enduring and influential storytellers through rare footage from the Disney vaults as well as interviews with animators, artists and biographers. Part 1 tells the story of Disney’s early days, including the creation of Mickey Mouse and the making of “Snow White,” the first full-length animated film. Part 2 airs Friday, April 13. (Watch now via Passport.)
Tuesday, April 10
“The Perfect Crime: American Experience” at 8 p.m.
Re-examine the shocking story of Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy college students who murdered a 14-year-old boy in 1924 to prove they were smart enough to get away with it. Their trial set off a national debate about morality and capital punishment. (Watch online.)
Wednesday, April 11
“GI Jews – Jewish Americans in World War II” – New
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 12, discover the story of more than 550,000 brave servicemen and women who served their country in all branches of the military during World War II. Filmmaker Lisa Ades brings the struggles of these brave men and women to life through first-hand experiences that reveal their fight against fascism, as well as their more personal war to liberate loved ones in Europe. After years of battle, these pioneering servicemen and women emerged transformed: more profoundly American, more deeply Jewish, and determined to continue the fight for equality and tolerance at home. The program features more than 25 original interviews with veterans who speak candidly about the impact of their wartime experiences, including Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Henry Kissinger, the late Bea Cohen and others. (Watch online.)
Friday, April 13
“Walt Disney: American Experience”
Part 2 follows Disney’s career through films such as “Cinderella” and “Mary Poppins” and the realization of his dream project, Disneyland. (Watch now via Passport.)
Wednesday, April 18
POV “Bill Nye: Science Guy” – New
Bill Nye is a man on a mission: to stop the spread of anti-scientific thinking across the world. The former star of the popular kids show “Bill Nye the Science Guy” is now advocating for the importance of science, research and discovery in public life. With intimate and exclusive access – as well as plenty of wonder and whimsy – this behind-the-scenes portrait of Nye follows him as he takes off his Science Guy lab coat and takes on those who deny climate change, evolution and a science-based world view. With one eye always on science education, Nye works toward the goal of creating a more scientifically literate world. (Also Fri. 4/20 at 3 a.m.; Sun. 4/22 at 3 p.m.) Watch online.