Dawn Porter -- who trained as an attorney before becoming a director of films mostly about legal issues -- tracks RFK’s transformation to civil rights and social justice advocate, beginning with his actions to free MLK from jail in 1960, through his efforts in the 1963 showdown against George Wallace to integrate the University of Alabama, and later, as a US senator, his fight in the war on poverty. Much of the second episode, about his life and career following his brother’s assassination, highlights RFK’s commitment to the Latino community and migrant labor issues, guided by an interview with United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta.
Of course, there’s also the track of privilege and nepotism that helped RFK’s rise, but that and his own political ascendancy from out of his brother’s shadow are underpinnings to this portrait of a man’s overall evolution to the pedestal he’s been on for the last half century. And more than the bullet points of what Kennedy stood for, or achieved, or might have done as president, it’s the painting of his character that's more resonant. To see Lewis go from talking of concerns about JFK and RFK in the first episode, to his heartbreaking emotional breakdown on camera over memory of the latter’s death in part three, is the sort of honest historical context we don’t get with most documentaries on significant subjects, which tend to be strictly celebratory or educational in their approach.