One-Hour Documentary Special Gives a Timely and Powerful Look at Events Leading to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March and 2020’s March on Washington 57 Years Later as the Nation Reels From Civil Unrest and a Global Pandemic
The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream Set to Premiere Thursday, Feb. 18, at 10/9c on National Geographic and Will Be Available Next Day on Hulu – Friday, Feb. 19
National Geographic announced today that THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON: KEEPERS OF THE DREAM is set to premiere Thursday, Feb. 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. It 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 Emmett 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.”
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 Emmy®Award-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.
Using original short-form content across its platforms, National Geographic will also be celebrating Black voices in the worlds of science, adventure and exploration during Black History Month — including National Geographic Explorer Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, Mae Jemison and Courtney B. Vance of GENIUS: ARETHA. In addition to its on-air, social channels and digital platforms, National Geographic’s “Overheard” podcast and the National Geographic magazine will have dedicated content that will celebrate Black storytellers, leaders and heroes.
For the past year, National Geographic’s podcast series “Overheard” has explored the journeys of photographers and scientists who are focusing a new lens on history. On Feb. 12, National Geographic presents “In Conversation,” a special episode featuring explorer Tara Roberts, computer scientist Gloria Washington and photographer Ruddy Roye as they reframe Black history through their work—across maritime archeology, artificial intelligence and photo journalism. Listen @natgeo.com/listen.
National Geographic Kids (natgeokids.com) will also be updating its African American Heroes digital hub with four new profiles: John Lewis, Katherine Johnson, George Washington Carver and Bessie Coleman.
About National Geographic Partners LLC
National Geographic Partners LLC (NGP), a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and the National Geographic Society, is committed to bringing the world premium science, adventure and exploration content across an unrivaled portfolio of media assets. NGP combines the global National
Geographic television channels (National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Nat Geo MUNDO, Nat Geo PEOPLE) with National Geographic’s media and consumer-oriented assets, including National Geographic magazines; National Geographic studios; related digital and social media platforms; books; maps; children’s media; and ancillary activities that include travel, global experiences and events, archival sales, licensing and e-commerce businesses. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for 133 years, and now we are committed to going deeper, pushing boundaries, going further for our consumers … and reaching millions of people around the world in 172 countries and 43 languages every month as we do it. NGP returns 27 percent of our proceeds to the nonprofit National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration, conservation and education. For more information visit natgeotv.com or nationalgeographic.com, or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
About ESPN’s The Undefeated
The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. The digital hub, TheUndefeated.com, which launched in May 2016, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues.
In addition to its cutting-edge content, The Undefeated seeks to be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country – convening insightful forums to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.
Fowzia Iranpur, 562-900-0632, Fowzia.Iranpur@natgeo.com
Mac Nwulu, 860-766-4196, Mac.Nwulu@espn.com
Kimberly Jarvis, 860-302-5074, Kimberly.Jarvis@espn.com