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Award Was Presented by Marguerite Lenfest on Behalf of Gerry Lenfest

Burns Was Interviewed Onstage by Local High School Student Simone Cruice-Barnett

On April 11, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns was presented with the Gerry Lenfest Spirit of the American Revolution Award in a ceremony at Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution. The award recognized his more than four decades of masterful storytelling about our nation’s history and its revolutionary spirit. 

This marked the second time the Museum has presented the Lenfest Award. The inaugural award was presented to Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough in September 2016. The Museum’s Chairman Emeritus H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, who passed away in August 2018, created and endowed the award to recognize distinguished and significant achievement in advancing public awareness and understanding of history and of its relevance in the ongoing American experiment.

The award was presented by Marguerite Lenfest on behalf of her husband Gerry, along with Museum Chairman General John Jumper, and Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, Museum President and CEO. Burns was introduced by Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman of Bank of America, the presenting sponsor for the award gala.

“I have dedicated myself to American history,” said Burns. “We have a great responsibility in telling history, but we also know that history is our greatest teacher...As Mark Twain is supposed to have said, ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.’ And if you know it, it can be an armor and a guide and certainly the greatest teacher there is.”

During the evening, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney presented Burns with a Ceremonial Tribute on behalf of the City of Philadelphia in recognition of his lifetime of work exploring American life and social history.

Earlier in the day, Burns met with nearly 100 local high school students for a discussion about documentary filmmaking, his inspiration, and his process. Participating students came from The Philadelphia High School for Creative & Performing Arts, Samuel Fels High School, Abraham Lincoln High School, Roxborough High School, and Science Leadership Academy. One of the students, Simone Cruice-Barnett, a junior at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy, joined Burns for a conversation about the power of storytelling through film as part of the award program. 

“Ken Burns is a master storyteller and visionary artist whose decades of documentary filmmaking have transformed our relationship with our nation’s history,” said Stephenson. “Through his films Ken creates a window into worlds that—though they may be vastly different from our own—illuminate the shared human experiences that lie at their core. He creates empathy for those who came before us and the difficult decisions they faced, challenging us to live with future generations in mind.”   

Bank of America was the presenting sponsor. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Museum’s educational mission. 

About Ken Burns
Ken Burns has been making documentary films for over forty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War; Baseball; Jazz; The Statue of Liberty; Huey Long; Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery; Frank Lloyd Wright; Mark Twain; Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson; The War; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea; The Roosevelts: An Intimate History; Jackie Robinson; Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War; The Vietnam War; and, most recently, The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science.

Future film projects include Country Music, Ernest Hemingway, Muhammad Ali, The Holocaust & the United States, Benjamin Franklin, Lyndon B. Johnson, The American Buffalo, Leonardo da Vinci, the American Revolution, the history of Crime and Punishment in America, the history of Reconstruction, and Winston Churchill, among others.

Burns’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including 16 Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards and two Oscar nominations; and in September of 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Burns was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

About Bank of America
At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at and connect with us on Twitter at @BofA_News.

About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution explores the dramatic, surprising story of the American Revolution through its unmatched collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, documents, and works of art. Immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive digital elements bring to life the diverse array of people who created a new nation against incredible odds. Visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in the ongoing promise of the American Revolution. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit or call 877.740.1776.