Journey of the African-American Athlete
As we celebrate the golden anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s arrival to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the ascendancy of Masters champion Tiger Woods, Home Box Office reminds us of the multitude of struggles and small but significant triumphs made by black athletes through the years in this impressive two-hour television documentary. Executive producer Ross Greenburg, senior producer Rick Bernstein, and a superb production team, including consultant and writer William C. Rhoden and producers Leslie D. Farrell, Paul H. Hutchinson, and Kendall Reid, exquisitely combine rare footage of historic figures with informative interviews with their contemporaries and those who followed, to document the pioneering accomplishments of African-Americans in sports as diverse as horse racing, bicycling, boxing, tennis, and baseball. As narrator, Samuel L. Jackson details the often volatile struggle in a smooth, even pace which allows the pictures to tell the story. Part I of the documentary focuses on athletes from 1875 to 1950, when black jockeys rode 11 of the first 20 Kentucky Derby winners and Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson blazed the trail. The second program (1950 to the present) showcases Althea Gibson, Wilma Rudolph, Jim Brown, Hank Aaron, and Michael Jordan, among many others. For providing an exceptional portrayal of African-Americans in sport, with important lessons and implications for the society as a whole, a Peabody to HBO Sports for The Journey of the African-American Athlete.