The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream
The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time … ” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

As the nation reels from civil unrest and a global pandemic, the new documentary “The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream” takes 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.

The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream will premiere Thursday, February 18, at 10/9c on National Geographic and will be available next day on Hulu – Friday, February 19.

The 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 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.

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