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“I Run with Maud: A Promise. A Movement.” Centers on the Shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and the Pursuit for Justice in His Name

NFL great and noted philanthropist Warrick Dunn narrates the Black History Always program on ESPN+

The inclusive storytelling by The Undefeated on ESPN+ continues with “I Run with Maud: A Promise. A Movement.,” which debuted earlier today on the sports, race and culture platform. Author and former NFL running back Warrick Dunn narrates the Black History Always special about the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery by three white men. The film explores Arbery’s death and its lasting impact. 

The graphic video of the killing of Arbery as he jogged in his home town of Brunswick, Ga., sparked a national outcry. As the jury selection for the trial of Arbery’s assailants began Monday, Oct. 18, Black distance runners nationwide pledged to “Run with Maud,” all the way to the 50th NYC Marathon on Nov.7. Various runners are highlighted in the 30-minute program in addition to interviews with Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones and New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.

“I Run with Maud: A Promise. A Movement.” is directed by Sarah M. Kazadi, who joined The Undefeated this spring. Kazadi spoke with Front Row about her first Black History Always project.

Describe the experience of working on your first Black History Always project and the gut-wrenching topic.

It was an enriching experience being able to meet and build connections with some of the people we interviewed for this story. Early on, I didn’t particularly want to do this without Ms. Wanda (Arbery’s mom) being OK with it first. When we finally met in person, I was so impressed by her. Her perseverance stood out to me. I was able to gain a lot from the conversations I had with her and the other people we interviewed. They are determined, driven and united by the need to get justice and accountability for Ahmaud Arbery. 

I was so inspired by Ms. Wanda and all of the powerful characters in the film. In addition to my own belief in the importance of telling this story, seeing how committed they were to this cause gave me hope. 

How were you able to secure Warrick Dunn, also known for his philanthropy, as a narrator and why?

I was thinking about just running and the ability to go out there and be free. I needed a voice that people associate with running, but someone who also has that extra element of community involvement and doing the work outside of their sport to bring about change. I wanted someone who would resonate in Georgia. Warrick Dunn checked all the boxes – his career with the [Atlanta] Falcons as an all-around elite football player…I just wanted someone with that gravitas associated with the project. It helped that he was someone who is very invested in his community and involved in bringing about change with the topics raised in this film. After we reached out and told him what the project was about, he came on-board. He believes in the project and the importance of something like this. I’m very grateful and appreciative he agreed to be part of this project. 

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Senior writer Jesse Washington is covering the trial for The Undefeated, ESPN’s content platform exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. His first column: “Trial of Men Charged with Ahmaud Arbery Death Will Measure Where We Stand.”

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