Today we celebreate the life and birthday of the one and only Martin Luther King Jr. Civil rights leader, activist, minister, and one of the greatest Americans in our country’s history.
Today we make a list of the top pieces of content related to Dr. King, his legacy, and his work. We have the best of his speeches, films, books, and music made by or in relation to MLK.
SPEECH – “I Have A Dream”
“I Have a Dream” is THE Martin Luther King Jr. speech. Made during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech was a defining moment of the civil rights movement.
Beginning with a reference to the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed millions of slaves in 1863, King said “one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free”. Toward the end of the speech, King departed from his prepared text for a partly improvised peroration on the theme “I have a dream”, prompted by Mahalia Jackson’s cry: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” In this part of the speech, which most excited the listeners and has now become its most famous, King described his dreams of freedom and equality arising from a land of slavery and hatred. The speech was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century in a 1999 poll of scholars of public address.
You can read the entire speech for yourself here – https://www.archives.gov/files/press/exhibits/dream-speech.pdf
FILM – Selma
Selma is a 2014 historical drama film directed by talented creator for The Culture Ava DuVernay based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lewis. The film stars actors David Oyelowo as King.
Selma was released on January 9, 2015, two months before the 50th anniversary of the march and was re-released on March 20, 2015 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the historical march.
Selma had four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director and Best Actor and won for Best Original Song. It was also nominated for Best Picture and won the Oscar Best Original Song at the 2016 Academy Awards.
TV/DOC – I Am MLK Jr
I Am MLK Jr. celebrates the life and explores the character of Dr. King. The film provides intimate, first hand 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.
Filmed in historic churches where Dr. King preached and heightened by the music that buoyed the Civil Rights Movement, I Am MLK Jr. features a powerful cast ranging from history-changing civil rights-era activists to contemporary writers, activists and outspoken celebrities including Congressman John Lewis, Carmelo Anthony, CNN’s Van Jones, Rev. Al Sharpton, Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles and civil rights activist Diane Nash. Each interview provides a unique perspective on Dr. King, his legacy and why this history matters today as the #blacklivesmatter movement rises in prevalence. The documentary debuted in 2018 on the Paramount Network.
MUSIC – “Glory” Common & John Legend
“Glory” is a song by rapper Common and singer John Legend. It was written by John Legend, Common, and Rhymefest. The song was released on December 11, 2014 as the theme song from the 2014 film Selma, which portrays the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. Common also co-starred as Civil Rights Movement leader James Bevel in the film.
The song is stirring and emotional with Legend and Common delivering poignant and eloquent lyrics about Dr. King and the plight of our people today. Commercially, the song peaked at number 49 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the song won the award for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards in 2015, as well as the award for Best Song Written for Visual Mediaat the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in 2016. Common and John Legend also performed the song live at the Oscars.
BOOK – The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Autobiography” is something of a misnomer here as Dr. King never actually wrote his own history. This is an interesting substitute, however, which pieces together parts of his writings, speeches, sermons, and letters into a chronology of his life. Martin Luther King, Jr. As one of the twentieth century’s most influential men he lived one of the most extraordinary lives as a husband, a father, a preacher, and the preeminent leader of a movement that continues to transform America and the world. Commissioned and authorized by his family, here is the life and times of Martin Luther King, Jr., drawn from a comprehensive collection of writings, recordings, and documentary materials, many of which have never before been made public. The book was a New York Times best seller and is a great look at the life of Dr. King in his own words.
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Written by @TalentedMrFord