Daily VideoSeptember 21, 2021
Daily News Lesson: An inside look at PBS’s ‘Muhammad Ali’ and who gets to tell the story
Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. Some students may find it easier to read along with the transcript or turn on closed captions/CC.
Summary: Ken Burns’ latest four-part documentary, “Muhammad Ali,” premiered Sunday, Sept. 19 on PBS and runs for four nights. Jeffrey Brown visited Burns at his studio for a behind-the-scenes look at how he makes his films, and the larger context and conflicts in telling America’s story in a time of racial reckoning. This report is part of our arts and culture series, “CANVAS.”
Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:
- Who is Ken Burns and what is he known for?
- What are some of the reasons Burns wanted to cover Ali?
- When did Muhammad Ali become a civil rights icon?
- Why is telling Ali’s story important, according to this interview?
- How might this documentary add to viewers’ understanding of the American experience?
Focus question: If you could request an in-depth PBS documentary about one historical American figure, who would you choose, and why?
What are your thoughts on Ken Burn’s response about making a film about Muhammad Ali as a white male and the issue of ‘who gets to tell the story’?
Media literacy: Why do you think this piece was largely about the making of the documentary, and not the subject of the documentary itself?
You can watch Ken Burns’ Muhammad Ali series here. You can watch the trailer below:
- This year, director Regina King released a fictionalized retelling of Ali’s significance in the civil rights movement called One Night in Miami. You can learn more about that film in this lesson.
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