Martin Luther King day, observed on the third Monday of January each year, celebrates the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
We’re suggesting you reflect on Civil Rights in America today with a selection of documentaries on Martin Luther King and his legacy.
King: A Filmed Record
The life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama, and culminating with his assassination in Memphis in 1968. Including archival footage, this film is an indispensable primary resource of a pivotal moment in American and world history. Originally screened in theaters for only a single night in 1970.
In Remembrance of Martin
This PBS documentary honoring Dr. Martin Luther King provides important biographical information about his life. Those who knew the man best, as well as a number of his most accomplished admirers, appear on camera to discuss King’s extraordinary life and civil rights achievements. His widow, Coretta Scott King, and Ralph Abernathy talk about this exceptional man who was once a part of their lives. Former Senator Julian Bond, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and former President Jimmy Carter also share their thoughts about King’s incredible courage and crucial efforts to improve race relations in America.
Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
This four-part series looks at the last five decades of African American history through the eyes of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., exploring the tremendous gains and persistent challenges of these years. Drawing on eyewitness accounts, scholarly analysis and rare archival footage, the series illuminates our recent past, while raising urgent questions about the future of the African American community–and our nation as a whole.
I Am MLK Jr
Following his journey across the mountaintops and valleys while capturing the Civil Rights Movement at large, the film provides intimate, firsthand insights on Dr. King, exploring moments of personal challenge and elation, and an ongoing movement that is as important today as when Dr. King first shone a light on the plight of his fellow African Americans.
King: A Man of Peace In A Time of War
The rare and candid TV interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – unseen in 40 years – is the centerpiece of this timely tribute. This documentary features exclusive interviews with such notables as Jesse Jackson and Colin Powell that provide fresh insight into the life and personality of the late civil rights leader.