Former Hometown Stamford, Public Television Launch Ken Burns' Documentary on Jackie Robinson

As the 2016 major league baseball season begins, the eyes of the nation – and his former hometown of Stamford – will once again turn to the remarkable legacy of Jackie Robinson. A new documentary by acclaimed film director Ken Burns, titled Jackie Robinson, premieres Monday, April 11 at 9 p.m. and continues Tuesday, April 12 at 9 p.m. on PBS and CPTV. To kick-off the program’s debut, the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN) will host a special tribute to Jackie Robinson at The Palace Theatre, Stamford on Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m. The event will include live jazz music by award-winning saxophonist Albert Rivera, and commentary and a Q&A session with ESPN commentator and former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville.Jackie_Robinson_Title_878x494

Although not a Connecticut native, Robinson lived in Stamford for nearly 20 years, having moved to the community while a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954.  Robinson, known world-wide for breaking the color barrier in major league baseball in 1947, died of a heart attack in 1972, at age 53.

The evening will include an advance preview screening of the new two-part documentary by Ken Burns. The story of the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues features interviews with President Barack Obama, Harry Belafonte, Tom Brokaw, and others who share how Robinson’s determination and heroism influenced generations.12191994_10153655136803080_6232117043660408872_n

Upon arriving in Stamford, Robinson and his family lived with Richard Simon, co-founder of Simon and Schuster, and his wife, Andrea and their family at their North Stamford home before building a home on Cascade Road in North Stamford. The Simons’ daughter, singer/songwriter Carly Simon, recalled going with Robinson to Ebbets Field to see the Brooklyn Dodgers when she was young, the Greenwich Time recently reported.

parkStamford has a public park named in his honor, recalling that Robinson represented tolerance, educational opportunity, and the confidence that inspires personal achievement and success. A life-size bronze statue of Jackie Robinson with an engraved base bearing the words “COURAGE,” “CONFIDENCE,” AND “PERSEVERANCE” stands in the park located on West Main Street, the gateway to downtown Stamford.

Just weeks ago, Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon and her mother Rachel accompanied President Obama to Cuba, and joined him and the United States delegation at an exhibition baseball game.  She told

robinson“It brought back very personal memories of my father talking about his trip to Cuba in 1947, when the Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana. At the time, dad was a member of the Dodgers' farm team, the Montreal Royals. Branch Rickey arranged for him to fly to Cuba for an exhibition game, just a couple of months before he broke down baseball's color barrier in the United States. To me, this connection to my father almost brought me to tears. I was watching a baseball game in the same stadium nearly 70 years later.”

In the two-part documentary, Ken Burns “reveals fascinating stories about the legend’s life on and off the field.”  In part one, Robinson “rises from humble origins to integrate Major League Baseball, performing brilliantly despite the threats and abuse he faces on and off the field and, in the process, challenges the prejudiced notions of what a black man can achieve,” according to PBS.  In part two, Robinson” uses his fame to speak out against injustice, alienating many who had once lauded him for ‘turning the other cheek.’” After baseball, during his years in Stamford, “he seeks ways to fight inequality, but as he faces a crippling illness, he struggles to remain relevant.”

The documentary “paints the picture of a man who challenged institutional racism in the face of harsh criticism. It also delves into his close-knit relationship with his wife, Rachel, and their children through candid interviews and personal family photos.”

In 1997, Major League Baseball “universally” retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. Initiated for the first time on April 15, 2004, Major League Baseball has adopted a new annual tradition, “Jackie Robinson Day,” in which all players on all teams wear #42.

Of his interest in sharing Robinson’s story, director Ken Burns said, “There was so much more to say not only about Robinson’s barrier-breaking moment in 1947, but about how his upbringing shaped his intolerance for any form of discrimination and how after his baseball career, he spoke out tirelessly against racial injustice, even after his star had begun to dim.”

My dad once said, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives," Sharon Robinson recently recalled.

High Marks for PBS Programming, Affiliate Stations

Connecticut Public Television will celebrate its 50th anniversary at a gala on June 8 at the Hartford Marriott.  CPTV is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, including original documentaries, public affairs shows and educational programming.  CPTV has built a reputation as a leader in children’s programming, including playing an historic role in bringing Barney & Friends™, Bob the Builder™ and Thomas & Friends™ to public television. The station is an affiliate of PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service, which just released its annual survey on public perception of its programming. The survey confirmed that PBS and its member stations are ranked first in trust among nationally known institutions, and are considered an "excellent" use of tax dollars by the American public.  The yearly study has also called PBS the most fair network for news and public affairs 10 consecutive times. In the most current round of research, PBS KIDS was named the most educational TV/media brand, the safest destination for children to watch television or visit online, and the top provider of content that helps children learn reading, math and essential skills. In each question, PBS KIDS significantly outscored cable and commercial broadcast television.

  • More than 4 in 5 people trust PBS (85% "trust a great deal" or "trust somewhat")
  • Nearly 3 in 4 participants (76%) believe federal funding for PBS is money well spent. 
  • More than 4 in 10 respondents (44%) named PBS KIDS the most educational TV/media brand, significantly outscoring the second most highly rated brand, Disney, which was considered most educational by 12%.
  • Eighty-one percent (81%) agreed "strongly or somewhat" that "PBS helps prepare children for success in school and life."   

PBS received high marks for the effectiveness of its programming for children and adults in terms of handling important topics. A majority of respondents believed PBS programming addressed key subjects – from providing access to the arts and improving literacy to providing access to a variety of viewpoints either “very well” or “well.”

•    Provide people access to arts and culture – 67% •    Promote an understanding of American history – 62% •    Inform people of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity – 60% •    Promote an understanding of science and technology – 60% •    Improve literacy – 59% •    Provide access to a variety of viewpoints – 54% •    Inform people of important political and social issues – 51% •    Inform people about health issues – 51%

8 in 10 people (80%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that “PBS helps prepare children for success in school and life.” This statement was equated with cable television and commercial broadcast television by 37% and 34% of participants, respectively.(3)

Eighty-four percent (84%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “helps children improve their reading and math skills.” Cable and commercial broadcast television received this rating from 40% and 30% of respondents, respectively.(3)

Eighty-eight percent (88%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “is a trusted and safe place for children to watch television.” Only 34% and 36% of respondents agreed with this statement regarding cable and commercial broadcast television, respectively.(3)

Eight-five percent (85%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “is a trusted and safe place for children to visit online,” while this statement was attributed to cable television and commercial broadcasters by only 31% and 34% of the sample, respectively.(3)

Eighty-three percent (83%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS is "the innovator" in children’s educational media. 37% percent and 27% of participants also applied this statement to cable and commercial broadcast television, respectively.

The research was conducted in January and February 2012 by the independent, non-partisan research companies Harris Interactive and ORC Online Caravan. Each year, PBS commissions research to measure its performance and value as judged by its most important stakeholder – the American public.  Full results are available at