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American Experience Season 21 Episodes

10 Episodes 2009 - 2009

Episode 1

The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Mon, Jan 26, 2009 117 mins

The Season 21 premiere profiles scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who led America's development of the atomic bomb, spoke out against the H-bomb and, in 1953, had his security clearance revoked due to his association with communists during the 1930s. Included: reenactments starring David Strathairn; interviews with former colleagues; and insights from historian Martin Sherwin ("American Prometheus") and author Richard Rhodes ("The Making of the Atomic Bomb").

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American Experience, Season 21 Episode 1 image

Episode 2

The Polio Crusade

Mon, Feb 2, 2009 57 mins

The 20th-century effort to eradicate polio is chronicled.

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American Experience, Season 21 Episode 2 image

Episode 3

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Mon, Feb 9, 2009 87 mins

A recounting of the events leading up to and following the assassination of America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, a mere two months after he was sworn in for his second term, including the manhunt for the man responsible, actor John Wilkes Booth. Included: insights from Lincoln scholars and historians. Will Patton provides the voice of Booth. Chris Cooper narrates.

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American Experience, Season 21 Episode 3 image

Episode 4

A Class Apart

Mon, Feb 23, 2009 57 mins

The story of Hernández v. Texas, a landmark 1954 Supreme Court case that, in a unanimous ruling, declared that Mexican Americans were protected under the 14th Amendment. The episode details the history of Mexican Americans, the unequal treatment afforded them and the murder case that became the basis of Hernández v. Texas; and features remarks from attorney Carlos Cadena, who was part of the team that argued the case, and law professor Ian Haney-López (UC Berkeley).

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Episode 5

After the Mayflower

Mon, Apr 13, 2009 87 mins

The five-part "We Shall Remain," which explores the Native-American perspective of American history, opens in March 1621 with "After the Mayflower," about the alliance the Wampanoag leader Massasoit struck with the Plymouth colonists. The deal succeeded, providing peace and trading opportunities between the two. Some 50 years on, however, war erupted, with Massasoit's son Metacom (also known as King Philip) leading his people against the colonists. Benjamin Bratt narrates.

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Episode 6

Tecumseh's Vision

Mon, Apr 20, 2009 87 mins

"Tecumseh's Vision" recalls Shawnee brothers Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh. In 1805, Tenskwatawa---considered a prophet---had a vision that Indians should reject white culture. Tecumseh, in turn, led an alliance of tribes to stop the whites' westward push as well as a partnership with the British during the War of 1812. The coalition he had forged, however, fell apart following his death in 1813 during the Battle of the Thames.

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Episode 7

Trail of Tears

Mon, Apr 27, 2009 87 mins

"Trail of Tears" recalls the 1838 forced relocation of Cherokees from their ancestral lands in the southeastern U.S. to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Some 4000 Cherokees perished along the way. The documentary recalls the Cherokees' leaders John Ross and Major Ridge, who disagreed about whether the Cherokees should go or stay prior to the forced march; and a landmark Supreme Court case regarding tribal sovereignty.

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Episode 8


Mon, May 4, 2009 87 mins

"Geronimo" relates the story of the legendary Chiricahua Apache warrior who, along with his small band of followers, was among the last Indian holdouts to reservation life until his 1886 surrender to U.S. forces. The military resistance he presented to the overwhelming force of the Mexicans and, later, the Americans, confounded both as well as some of his fellow Apaches, who saw futility in such efforts.

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Episode 9

Wounded Knee

Mon, May 11, 2009 87 mins

"Wounded Knee" makes judicious use of archival footage and new interviews to tell the gripping story of the Feb. 27, 1973 takeover of a small South Dakota town on the Pine Ridge Reservation by some 200 Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement activists, who hoped to use the incident to redress past and current wrongs (the Oglala were unhappy with tribal chairman Dick Wilson). AIM leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means, who both took part in the 71-day occupation, are among those interviewed.

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American Experience, Season 21 Episode 9 image

Episode 10

Episode 10

Mon, May 18, 2009 177 mins

Stacy Keach narrates the story of America's first family. The chronicle, which features home movies, archival footage and photos, includes patriarch Joseph Kennedy's business and political dealings, John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential election and Robert F. Kennedy's tragic 1968 campaign, as well as Edward M. Kennedy's failed 1980 bid.

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