The Martin Luther King documentary King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis presents the civil rights leader almost entirely in highly public moments, like his speeches.
But there are a few more private moments. One is an interview Dr. King gives to a few journalists crowded into a small airplane. It’s one of the more personal and intimate moments we see in the movie. But Dr. King still sounds just like the public figure we’ve all come to know.
After I attended the screening of King at the Church of the Intercession in Harlem, I wanted to learn more about Dr. King. I especially wanted to know how well the movie captures who Dr. King was.
So I contacted Professor David Garrow. Professor Garrow wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of King, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
“[Dr. King] was always very conscious of being formal, and proper, and dignified,” Professor Garrow told me. “Part of it is going all the way back to Montgomery, of being super aware that he is being seen as a prime representative of all black people.”
Today, Dr. King still inspires people – in America and around the world. Our view of Dr. King – and the civil rights movement he led – is based almost entirely on the types of words and images we see in King: A Filmed Record.
And after watching the movie, we’re left wondering what Dr. King might be discussing today had he not been assassinated in 1968.
“In the last two years of his life, King most often times is speaking in a much more challenging, critical voice about the degree of change that is needed in American society and American behavior around the world,” Garrow says. “Anyone seeing this film would be very powerfully surprised that the real Martin Luther King is not simply the ‘I have a Dream” optimism of 1963.”
“This film is the real King,” he adds.
Check out my story about the New York screening of King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
—Kid Reporter Fred Hechinger
Why do you think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is still
important today? Has he inspired you? How? Let us know in the comments section
Photo: A still from the movie King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis (© Kino Lorber)