Ken and Ric Burns were honored with the 2016 History Makers Award on September 26 by the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. Wynton Marsalis gave the tribute. Watch the tribute here, and see excerpts below.
Ken and Ric Burns were honored with the 2016 History Makers Award by the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. Wynton Marsalis gave a tribute to Ken Burns. Read the full tribute, watch the video, and see excerpts below.
History is our memory and, as such, it is the province of artists as storytellers. Those artists recreate the stories that tell us what things mean and have meant, and if those stories are insightful and intense enough, they are also accurate in telling us what things will mean.
The most heroic aspect of historic storytelling entails leading a people to embrace aspects of their personality that they would rather forget or alter. In that forgetting, and in the repetition of what has been altered, the lies upon lies create a virtual foundation which becomes more and more shaky as the pressures of time and the unnegotiable truth of circumstances force us to live up and not down to our heritage.
You know, it's always much easier to do less of something that is difficult to do. Where there is struggle, there is circumvention, if not flat out avoidance. That's why it is easier to memorize dry facts of our history instead of engaging with the human meaning of it. Beyond the mask of coldly recited dates and names lies the rich vein of interactions that defines the best and worst of us as a people.