Few documentary filmmakers have wedged their names into the public psyche quite like Ken Burns has.

With a career spanning over four decades, his films have delved into some of the most notable American figures and historical periods dating back to the dawning of the United States. With documentaries about the Civil War, Thomas Jefferson, baseball, jazz, The Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali, the Central Park Five, Mark Twain and prohibition, to name a few, the director has covered just about every one of the most ambitious American topics one could think of, with a level of acclaim few documentarians have ever achieved—16 Emmys, two Grammys and two Oscar nominations.

The natural side effect of his 42 years of historical filmmaking means that the director has quite a few stories to share, which is why Burns has been invited to speak in Long Beach next month as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series at the Terrace Theater. The three-decades-old series, which only moved to Long Beach in 2020, invites some of the most esteemed leaders, thinkers, performers and achievers to educate and entertain the public in a rare and intimate setting.

Past speakers have included Malala Yousafzai, George W. Bush, the Dalai Lama, Madeleine Albright, Steve Martin, Bill Clinton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Condoleezza Rice—the list goes on.

The current lineup, which kicked off in September with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and American ballerina Misty Copeland, continues on May 1 with Ken Burns, who will be talking about the lives of some of his most iconic American subjects, including Thomas Jefferson, the Roosevelts, Jackie Robinson, Lewis and Clark, Frank Lloyd Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Mark Twain.

In this 90-minute lecture, Burns will be sharing stories about these historic figures (with video from his documentaries) while also touching on his own storytelling process. The last 20 minutes of the lecture will also include a Q&A portion, where Burns will answer questions from the audience.

Tickets to Ken Burns’ talk start at $50 and may be purchased online here, or by calling (310) 546-6222. The show starts at 8 p.m. Find more information here.

The Terrace Theater is at 300 E. Ocean Blvd.