Publication Date

February 1, 2008

On Monday, January 21, 2008, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Public Broadcasting System television stations premiered American Idealist, a new documentary on Sargent Shriver, the visionary founder of the Peace Corps, and the progenitor of key, ameliorative social programs like Head Start and VISTA.

Made by Chicago Video Project, an Emmy-award winning film production unit, the documentary has been described by Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University and coauthor of America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, as “One of the best documentaries ever made about the history of the 1960s.”

The film features Bill Moyers (who had served at the Peace Corps as deputy director), Coretta Scott King, former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford, Marian Wright Edelman (the president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund), Peace Corps volunteers, and leading historians among those who bring Shriver's story to life.

Robert Sargent Shriver, a World War II hero who married John F. Kennedy's sister, Eunice, signally contributed to creating the progressive legacies of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations by launching a series of social programs, many of which were directed against poverty in the United States and elsewhere.
American Idealist was written, directed, and produced by Bruce Orenstein, founder and executive director of the Chicago Video Project. Maria Shriver (Sargent Shriver’s daughter) served as executive producer.

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