The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is a point the great documentarian Ken Burns made when he joined Bill Rhoden and me on the latest episode of Bill Rhoden On Sports.
During one of Jackie Robinson’s last public appearances, he remarked that he was dismayed at the fact that there were no African American managers in Major League Baseball. That was 1972.
Fast forward to 2016 and there are two.
That’s not the only thing that hasn’t changed fast enough, according to Ken Burns.
“Jackie Robinson’s story is incredibly instructive,” Burns told us. “This is dealing with themes that we’re talking about now. This is driving while black, this is stop and frisk, this is integrated swimming pools, this is confederate flags, this is Black Lives Matter, this is burned churches. All of that stuff is happening now, that happened to Jackie.”
Burns’ new documentary, Jackie Robinson, premieres on PBS on April 11th and 12th. It is a two-part series that separates Robinson’s on-field career from his equally, if not more significant, post-playing career.
This latest Burns film is a typically thorough, in-depth look at the life and times surrounding Jackie Robinson. It includes never-seen-before footage of Robinson and his family and features interviews with Jackie’s wife Rachel Robinson and President Obama, among others.
Burns talked to us about his inspiration for the film, the continued importance of Jackie Robinson’s life and story, and parallels between the Jackie Robinson era and today.
Finally, Burns even expressed his opinion of Donald Trump and whether he sees a documentary on the real estate mogul turned presidential candidate in his future.
Listen to all of this and more on the latest edition of Bill Rhoden On Sports.
Follow the Bill Rhoden On Sports podcast on Twitter @BROSpod.