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KHS Serves as an underwriter to 'Muhammad Ali' documentary

There is a reason Muhammad Ali is known as “The Greatest.” This Kentucky legend made history as an athlete, humanitarian, and activist while maintaining a close connection to his home state of Kentucky.  Here at KHS, we educate and engage through Kentucky’s history in order to meet the challenges of the future, and we found a responsibility in sharing Ali’s greatness as a part of that mission.

Presented by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and PBS, Muhammad Ali, the new documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, premiered September 19, 2021., This eight-hour film, released in four episodes, highlights Muhammad Ali’s legacy and how his surroundings helped create the foundation of the historical figure we know today. Through this tangible connection to history, KET recognized the value of partnership with the Kentucky Historical Society as an underwriter for the presentation.

“I knew that with Ali being one of the most well-known Kentuckians, the Kentucky Historical Society would have a great interest in this national coverage, and I wanted to give the KHS team an opportunity to be part of this broader Kentucky history opportunity,” says Valerie Overlan, Corporate Development Officer at KET. “The fact that Ken and Sara Burns are showcasing the bigger-than-life Kentuckian, Muhammad Ali, aligned all too well for KHS.

KHS values include a commitment to excellence, authenticity, and stewardship, and Muhammad Ali’s story is one that must be shared with intention. Since 1836, the public has entrusted the Kentucky Historical Society as the keeper of the commonwealth’s legacy. KHS continues to re-imagine this commitment by helping Kentuckians recognize the intrinsic value of history and the vital role it plays in addressing the enduring social, economic, and sustainability challenges we face today.  We look to our past to empower us to action, and in doing so, we understand that a consistent pattern of inequity stands out.  Since 2018, the KHS Prioritizing Diversity & Inclusion initiative has guided us through institutional change, fostered an intentional culture of inclusion, and embraced a new chapter in the history of the commonwealth – one that nurtures respect, compassion, and equity for all Kentuckians.

Jessica Stavros, KHS Deputy Director, says, “We believe this commitment to equity through Kentucky history aligns with the legacy of Muhammad Ali by advancing diversity, inclusion, and strategic advocacy for a better world.”President of Commonwealth Fund for KET Michele Ripley agrees that showcasing a project like this is valuable for all parties involved. “Muhammad Ali, KET, and the Kentucky Historical Society all share common goals,” says Ripley.

At its core, the story of Muhammad Ali is one of merit, and impactful partnerships are one of the best ways to tell extraordinary stories. Ripley says, “Through service, conviction, education, and inspiration, together we can advance to a better world. That’s the message behind Ken Burns’ latest epic about the life and legacy of Kentucky’s favorite son and international icon.”  Muhammad Ali’s story told episodically now streaming on PBS and KET.

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