PBS's American Experience to Air THE ABOLITIONISTS, January 2013

PBS's American Experience to Air THE ABOLITIONISTS, January 2013

Radicals. Agitators. Troublemakers. Liberators. Called by many names,the abolitionists tore the nation apart in order to create a more perfect union. Men and women, black and white, Northerners and Southerners, poor and wealthy, these passionate anti-slavery activists fought body and soul in the most important civil rights crusade in American history. What began as a pacifist movement fueled by persuasion and prayer became a fiery and furious struggle that forever changed the nation. Bringing to life the intertwined stories of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown, The Abolitionists takes place during some of the most violent and contentious decades in American history, amid white-hot religious passions that set souls on fire, and bitter debates over the meaning of the Constitution and the nature of race. It reveals how the movement shaped history by exposing the fatal flaw of a republic founded on liberty for some and bondage for others, setting the nation on a collision course. In the face of personal risks -- beatings, imprisonment, even death -- abolitionists held fast to their cause, laying the civil rights groundwork for the future and raising weighty constitutional and moral questions that are with us still.

Vividly bringing to life the epic struggles of the men and women who ended slavery, THE ABOLITIONISTS interweaves drama with traditional documentary storytelling. Directed by Rob Rapley, The Abolitionists stars Richard Brooks, Neal Huff, Jeanine Serralles, Kate Lyn Sheil, and T. Ryder Smith, and will premiere as a special presentation in three parts on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Tuesdays, January 8-22, 2013 from 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).

In addition to the broadcast, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE will be launching The Abolitionist Map of America. Available both as an iPhone app and interactive website, the Abolitionist Map of America makes clear that the legacy of the abolitionists' long struggle resides not in the remote past, but in the living present.

Watch an extended preview of THE ABOLITIONISTS here!

Featuring walking tours of the key abolitionist strongholds of Boston, Cincinnati and Philadelphia, as well as the formerly slave-holding city of Charleston, the map will explore important moments, characters, and locations connected to the story of the abolitionist movement. In partnership with hundreds of museums, libraries, archives and member stations, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE will populate the map with photographs, documents, and video clips from The Abolitionists to illustrate how the anti-slavery movement left indelible marks on local communities. Users will also be able to upload their own photos, videos and audio files to the map. The Abolitionist Map of America will be available in December 2012.

The Abolitionists is part of the PBS Winter/Spring 2013 season, anchored by the return of MASTERPIECE "Downton Abbey, Season 3," high profile mini-series THE MAKERS: WOMEN WHO MADE AMERICA, Ken Burns's THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE and CONSTITUTION USA with Peter Sagal. The season marks the return of distinctive drama on Sundays; the best independent films to Monday nights, including profiles of Mel Brooks and Chinese artist and social activist Ai Wei Wei; history and public affairs on Tuesdays; a new crop of "Exploration Wednesday" science and nature programs, and PBS' ongoing commitment to arts programming on Fridays featuring a star-studded new series on Shakespeare's greatest works.


Television's most-watched history series, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE has been hailed as "peerless" (Wall Street Journal), "the most consistently enriching program on television" (Chicago Tribune), and "a beacon of intelligence and purpose" (Houston Chronicle). On air and online, the series brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America's past and present. Acclaimed by viewers and critics alike, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaries have been honored with every major broadcast award, including 30 Emmy Awards, four duPont-Columbia Awards, and 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, one most recently for the series represented by Freedom Riders, Triangle Fire, and Stonewall Uprising.

Exclusive corporate funding for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Major funding provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Major funding for The Abolitionists provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Additional Funding provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations; the Yawkey Foundations; Members of the Documentary Investment Group, The Gretchen Stone Cook Charitable Foundation, Robert & Marjie Kargman and Gloria & Burton Rose; and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Public Television Viewers. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.