HAZLETON — Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon made a brief appearance in his hometown Wednesday, not to talk about baseball but as a special guest for a documentary screening.
WVIA Public Media hosted a special sneak preview of the upcoming documentary “American Creed” at the Hazleton One Community Center. The film features Maddon and a segment on Hazleton.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer-Prize winning historian David M. Kennedy were some of the high-profile personalities featured in the film.
The film depicts different communities across America with growing diverse demographics as well as the history of some of these cities, what American identity is for people of color and how immigrants become naturalized citizens.
“We’re so very pleased that Joe Maddon is the driver of that story for Hazleton,” said Chris Norton, senior vice president of community engagement at WVIA.
The production of the film comes at a time when the country is still deeply divided regarding race, immigration and politics, following the 2016 presidential election. In the film, Maddon speaks about his personal background and how the city has evolved since his childhood. Maddon’s grandparents were immigrants who worked in the once-booming coal mines of NEPA.
“It was such a wonderful place to grow up,” he said during a question-and-answer session following the screening. In the film, Maddon said the city “has lost its confidence” as economic opportunities have decreased over time and poverty has increased.
“Some days I don’t recognize the place,” he said in a clip from the film.
Maddon also touched on racial tension and undocumented immigration in Hazleton in “American Creed” — issues that have put the small Pennsylvania town into the national spotlight in the past as well.
On a more positive note, Maddon also spoke about his involvement with the Hazleton Integration Project, a community-based effort that seeks to unite people of different backgrounds and cultures, who call the city home. He said he does experience negativity from time to time from people regarding his views, but the initiative is making progress in building relationships and bringing the diverse community of Hazleton together.
“It’s been a really positive dialogue,” Maddon said.
American Creed premieres on PBS and WVIA on Feb. 27, 2018.