It’s been almost 40 years since 1963’s March on Washington led by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but the war for “genuine equality” continued to be waged in 2020.
National Geographic explores that connection in one-hour documentary special The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream, premiering Thursday, Feb. 18 at 10/9 c on Nat Geo and available to stream the next day on Hulu.
The special comes from Nat Geo in partnership with The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative that explores the intersection of sports, race and culture. It traces the Civil Rights Movement through the recollections and observations of such historians, activists and journalists as author Wes Moore, University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Mary Frances Berry, March on Washington attendee Dr. Vernon Allwood, journalists Chris Connelly and Jemele Hill, University of Southern California professor Dr. Todd Boyd, civil-rights attorney Bill Murphy Jr. and social activists Clarissa Brooks and Mariah Parker.
The documentary starts with the events that set the stage for March 1963, from the publication of a photo of 14-year-old Emmitt Till, who had been murdered by Mississippi vigilantes, to broadcasts of police attacking Black protesters in Birmingham, Ala. Those events were the catalyst to the now historic march and for King and other leaders to demand federal action.
The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were subsequently passed, but racial injustice continues in the U.S., as the protests of last summer after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd revealed.
The special concludes with images from 2020’s March on Washington, bringing the special’s themes of racial inequality and injustice full circle.
The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream is produced by National Geographic Studios and The Undefeated. National Geographic’s Aneka Hylton-Donelson and The Undefeated’s Kevin Merida and Sharon Matthews are executive producers. Marquis Daisy directed the special, while The Undefeated senior writer Jesse Washington produced and wrote. Chris Weber is SVP of National Geographic Studios.
The television special serves as an extension of ESPN’s Black History Always initiative – a companywide content commitment to highlight Black stories beyond l Black History Month. #BlackHistoryAlways began on Jan. 18 with the 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 also will celebrate 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, star of Nat Geo’s upcoming original series Genius: Aretha. In addition to its on-air, social channels and digital platforms, National Geographic’s “Overheard” podcast and National Geographic magazine will offer dedicated content celebrating Black storytellers, leaders and heroes.