Public broadcasters BBC2, PBS and France 3 have all signed up for a documentary marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The march, which was attended by some 200,000 to 300,000 Americans, is today best known for Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I have a dream” speech (pictured above). The new documentary promises to tell the full story of the events of August 28, 1963, via the people who organized and participated in the rally.
The film, entitled The March, was made by Sundance Productions and Smoking Dogs Films, in association with Cactus 3. It will air on August 27 at 9 p.m. EST in the U.S., with BBC2 airing it in the UK at some point in August.
Martin Davidson, the BBC’s commissioning editor for history who – along with BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow – commissioned the doc, said: “The words ‘I have a dream’ resonate throughout the modern world – we recognize them immediately.
“As well as Martin Luther King Jr’s spirited call for racial justice, this celebratory film reflects the sometimes forgotten stories of the many hundreds of committed, dedicated supporters who also made the march a success – and in doing so made history.”
Beth Hoppe, PBS’s chief programming executive and general manager for general audience programming, added: “Viewers turn to PBS to provide great programs that explore our nation’s history.
“The 50th anniversary of this major milestone provides the perfect opportunity to examine the legacy of the original march.”
The doc is produced by Lina Gopaul and David Lawson, and directed by John Akomfrah, with Krysanne Katsoolis, Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn serving as exec producers. Sam Pollard is consulting producer, with Gina Belafonte the associate producer. Davidson is the exec producer for the BBC.
Sundance Productions’ Redford said: “The story of people who suffered profound injustice in America and fought it with sacrifice and courage is something we should never forget. I hope the generations who see this film will be inspired by it.”
The doc features contributions from commentators including Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Clarence Jones, Roger Mudd and Edith Lee-Payne.
In addition to broadcasting The March, PBS will honor the 50th anniversary of the event with a full week of special online programming and events.