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American Experience is TV's most-watched history series and brings to life the compelling stories from our past that inform our understanding of the world today.
Follow prominent and ordinary Americans whose actions began to turn the country onto a new course.
In an era in which cold-blooded killers such as Jesse James and the Younger Brothers terrorized the American West, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and their Wild Bunch gang took a smart and methodical approach to bank and train robbery. In the 1890s, their thrilling exploits — robbing banks and trains and then seemingly vanishing into thin air — became front-page news and the basis of rumor and myth, captivating Americans from coast to coast.
In 1910, the Pennsylvania Railroad successfully accomplished the enormous engineering feat of building tunnels under New York City's Hudson and East Rivers, connecting the railroad to New York and New England, knitting together the entire eastern half of the United States. The tunnels terminated in what was one of the greatest architectural achievements of its time, Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station covered nearly eight acres, extended two city blocks, and housed one of the largest public spaces in the world. But just 53 years after the station's opening, the monumental building that was supposed to last forever, to herald and represent the American Empire, was slated to be destroyed.
A historic effort in the summer of 1964 to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation's most viciously racist, segregated states.
In 1964, less than 7% of Mississippi's African Americans were registered to vote, compared to between 50 and 70% in other southern states. In many rural counties, African Americans made up the majority of the population, and the white segregationist establishment was prepared to use any means necessary to keep them away from the polls and out of elected office.
For years, local civil rights workers had tried unsuccessfully to increase voter registration amongst African Americans. Those who wished to vote had to face the local registrar, an all-powerful white functionary who would often publish their names in the paper and pass the word on to their employers and bankers. And if the loss of jobs and the threat of violence wasn't enough to dissuade them, the complex and arcane testing policies were certain to keep them off the rolls.
In 1964, a new plan was hatched by Bob Moses, a local secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. For ten weeks, white students from the North would join activists on the ground for a massive effort that would do what had been impossible so far: force the media and the country to take notice of the shocking violence and massive injustice taking place in Mississippi.
Cold War Roadshow tells the story of one of the most bizarre episodes in the annals of modern history — the unprecedented barnstorming across America in the fall of 1959 by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the world leader of communism and America's arch nemesis. At the very height of the Cold War, with American schoolchildren practicing duck-and-cover drills, the man who Americans feared could incinerate them in a rain of hydrogen bombs arrived in Washington, D.C. at the invitation of President Eisenhower. For both men, the visit was an opportunity to halt the escalating threats of the Cold War and chart a new course toward peaceful coexistence. For the American press, it was the media blockbuster story of the year.
The life and legacy of filmmaker and animator Walt Disney, from his creation of Mickey Mouse through the making of ``Snow White,'' the first full-length animated film.
Walt Disney's life and legacy, from "Cinderella" to "Mary Poppins" and his vision and realization of Disneyland.
Meet William Morgan, the larger-than-life American who rose to power in Cuba during the revolution.
Discover the harrowing and brutal truths behind the Pilgrims' arrival in the New World and the myths of Thanksgiving. Director Ric Burns explores the history of our nation's beginnings in this epic tale of converging forces.
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