Eight, Arizona PBS honors 50th anniversary of Civil Rights March

Eight, Arizona PBS will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington – a pivotal day in the Civil Rights Movement that helped usher in sweeping civil rights legislation and a sea of change in public opinion – with a week of programming dedicated in remembrance, leading to the premiere of the landmark PBS documentary "The March" at 8 p.m., Aug. 27.

“Viewers turn to PBS to provide great programs that explore our nation’s history,” said Beth Hoppe, PBS chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming. “The 50th anniversary of this major milestone provides the perfect opportunity to examine the legacy of the original March.”

The film, which airs on the eve of the anniversary, recounts the dramatic events that took place not only in front of the cameras, but behind the scenes, revealing how one of the most important events in the Civil Rights Movement almost didn’t happen – told by key players, such as Jack O’Dell, Clarence B. Jones, Julian Bond and Andrew Young. The film includes testimonials from Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Roger Mudd, Peter Yarrow and Oprah Winfrey, in addition to historians, journalists, authors and ordinary citizens who joined some 250,000 Americans who thronged to the capital on that momentous day to peacefully demand an end to two centuries of discrimination and injustice.

“The story of people who suffered profound injustice in America and fought it with sacrifice and courage is something we should never forget,” executive producer Robert Redford said. “I hope the generations who see this film will be inspired by it.”

The event, which will forever be remembered for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stirring “I Have a Dream” speech, endures today as a symbol of unity and monumental impact.

“The March is the watershed moment of the Civil Rights Movement, the culmination of a hundred years of activism against segregation and social injustice for people of color in the U.S.,” director John Akomfrah said. “Re-telling this story is my small contribution to that monumental struggle.”

In addition to the broadcast of "The March," Eight, Arizona PBS will air an encore of "American Masters James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket" at 8 p.m., Aug. 23, which marks the 25th anniversary of Baldwin’s death. Preceding the premiere of "The March" will be an encore broadcast of "In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement" at 7 p.m. Immediately following the broadcast of "The March" will be an encore presentation of "Soundtrack for a Revolution: American Experience" at 9 p.m., which tells the story of the American Civil Rights Movement through its music.

Eight, Arizona PBS social media will present PBS Black Culture Connection, a resource and guide to films, stories and voices centered around Black history and culture, as it hosts a full day of special events and activities on the anniversary – including live chats, film screenings and hosted discussions on a variety of issues and topics. Eight will highlight PBS Black Culture Connection’s unveil of "The March @50," a provocative five-part web series exploring whether America has delivered on the original demands of the marchers for jobs and freedom. With a new episode debuting each week for five weeks, "The March @50" will explore the March’s legacy through the lens of contemporary issues ranging from minority incarceration, disproportionate minority unemployment, the re-emergence of public school segregation and voting rights.

Eight will also share "Memories of the March," a series of video vignettes debuting on PBS Black Culture Connection. The 1963 March on Washington was created by community activists and dedicated people from every state in the country. The series will include fascinating first-person stories of original participants who made the trek to the nation’s capital, as well as others who were instrumental in working for the cause in their communities.

“PBS is offering many different ways to engage with the meaning and legacy of the March through this multi-faceted initiative,” said Hoppe. “These programs provide a deeper understanding of our history, preserve testimony from those who were there and offer a chance to take stock of whether progress has been made.