National Geographic has announced that The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream is set to premiere Thursday, February 18, at 10/9c and available next day on Hulu. The timely one-hour documentary special is from National Geographic and The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture.
The documentary will trace the raw and uncensored journey of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of the heroes who marched for justice and equality in the 1960s, and the experiences of those on the front lines of the current fight for racial equality.
The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream will feature historic footage, as well as the most gripping and poignant, first-hand accounts and emotional commentary from historians, activists and journalists, including Wes Moore (author), Dr. Mary Frances Berry (professor, UPENN), Dr. Vernon Allwood (‘63 March attendee), Chris Connelly (journalist), Dr. Todd Boyd (professor, USC), Bill Murphy Jr. (civil rights attorney), Jemele Hill (journalist), Clarissa Brooks (social activist) and Mariah Parker (social activist). The documentary will also illustrate the resilience of the civil rights movement and the sentiment of the people behind it.
The journey begins with events that set the stage for the March of 1963 – from the horrific photo of the corpse of 14-year-old Emmitt Till, murdered by Mississippi vigilantes who were acquitted of all charges, to the broadcasts of police attacking peaceful Black protesters in Birmingham, Alabama.
These images created the necessary public opinion and momentum for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders to carry out their historic march and demand federal action.
Yet after the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Acts were subsequently passed, violence toward Black America continued. The documentary will follow the history of these attacks, juxtaposed with examples of Black progress that have threatened to obscure a dangerous reality.
A deep dive into the events that led to the historic racial upheaval of 2020, including the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, will also explore a modern focus of King’s declaration: that the future of the Civil Rights Movement would be the struggle for “genuine equality.”
Candid insights on the long history of racial inequality include Moore’s testament to the current climate of unrest, “… the argument and demand is that there has to be a greater accountability and acknowledgement of Black life … Whether we are talking about the marches of the ‘60s or the marches that are taking place right now, that is what the marches are about – it’s about changing systems.”
The special concludes with images from the 2020 March on Washington and will bring full circle the themes which center on an underlying systemically volatile relationship between Black people and the police, and how it continues to be a deferred dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream is a bold and powerful look at this nation’s dark history and the path Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paved for us despite grave opposition,” said Courteney Monroe, president, Content, National Geographic.
“We are proud to have partnered with The Undefeated on this timely documentary special that provides a no-holds-barred look at the oppression faced by generations in this country as well as celebrates the unifying spirit and solidarity of the movement, then and now.”
“This compelling documentary takes viewers through the evolution of the March on Washington, and in the process highlights the galvanizing power of marches to fuel social change,” said Kevin Merida, senior vice president and Editor-in-Chief, The Undefeated. “We are proud to partner with National Geographic on this important film. The doc is a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made to make America better and how much work is left to be done.”
The documentary was produced by National Geographic Studios and The Undefeated. National Geographic’s Aneka Hylton-Donelson along with The Undefeated’s Kevin Merida and Sharon Matthews serve as executive producers. ESPN’s EmmyAward-winning filmmaker Marquis Daisy is director, with The Undefeated’s senior writer Jesse Washington as producer and writer, and Chris Weber is SVP of National Geographic Studios.
The television special on National Geographic is an extension of ESPN’s Black History Always initiative – a companywide content commitment to highlight Black stories beyond the traditional Black History Month.
#BlackHistoryAlways began with the Jan. 18th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday, continues through the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in early March and concludes during Jackie Robinson Day on April 15.