MLK Day Resources

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Democrats Abroad celebrates Martin Luther King day around the world and wants to help you celebrate it too. We've put together a list of recommendations to help you with any event you might be organizing (or attending) and look forward to hearing how you celebrate the day.

The recommendations below represents only a fraction of information available about Dr. Martin Luther King. If you have any recommendations you would like to share, please let us know at blackcaucus@democratsabroard.org. All documentaries, films and book are available for many sources. Where links are provided, they are only suggested sources. Please use the sources you are most comfortable with. 


Documentaries

"King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis" (1970) Sidney Lumet's 1970 documentary features celebrity narrators telling the story Martin Luther King Jr. during the period of the Civil Rights Movement.  Available on DVD.

Part 1 - http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xt2k78

Part 2 - http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xt2ljk


“In Remembrance of Martin” The PBS program was taped in 1986 on the first day that Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed. The hour-long special harvests memories from King’s family and friends. The informal storytelling is conducted with a tremendous roster that features Coretta Scott King, Jimmy Carter, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Sen. Edward Kennedy, Joan Baez … and Bill Cosby. Available on Amazon Video.

‘4 Little Girls’ (1997) A documentary of the notorious racial terrorist bombing of an African American church during the Civil Rights Movement. Available on Amazon Video.

Freedom on My Mind (1994) Chronicles the Mississippi voter registration drive from 1961- 64. Available on Vimeo on Demand.            

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: A Historical Perspective (1994)

Revisit the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his days as a preacher to the violent and exhilarating days of the Civil Rights Movement. Writer/director Tom Friedman takes a long hard look at this man who changed the nature of public discourse in America, and who legacy will live on forever.

The Loving Story (2011) On June 2, 1958, a white man named Richard Loving and his part-black, part-Cherokee fiancée Mildred Jeter traveled from Caroline County, VA to Washington, D.C. to be married. At the time, interracial marriage was illegal in 21 states, including Virginia. Back home two weeks later, the newlyweds were arrested, tried and convicted of the felony crime of "miscegenation." To avoid a one-year jail sentence, the Lovings agreed to leave the state; they could return to Virginia, but only separately.  Available on HBO Go, HULU, Amazon video, iTunes.

Freedom Riders (2010) is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws in order to test and challenge a segregated interstate travel system, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)  A biographical documentary film about Nina Simone. The documentary combines previously unreleased archival footage and interviews with Simone's daughter and friends.  Available on Netflix.

Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965 tells, in six one-hour series, the human stories of a movement for social change. The series, narrated by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee founding member Julian Bond tells the story of the U.S. Civil Rights movement from 1954-65.

Episode 1: Awakenings (1954-1956) The beginnings of the U.S. Civil rights struggle is profiled, including the Emmett Till murder trial and the Rosa Parks arrest/Montgomery bus boycott.    
Episode 2: Fighting Back (1957-1962) Following the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown Vs the Board of Education decision, the civil rights movement presses the issue of desegregation in schools. From Little Rock High School and Eisenhower's utilization of the 101st Airborne to Ole Miss and Kennedy's lobbying efforts.
Episode 3: Ain’t Scared of Your Jails (1960-1961) Beginning in 1960, young people on Black college campuses took a more active role in the civil rights movement's leadership and determined their own methods of promoting change.    
Episode 4: No Easy Walk (1961-1963) This episode depicts major civil rights movement events in three American cities.    
Episode 5: Mississippi: Is This America? (1962-1964) 1964 sees the advent of Freedom Summer. Volunteers from across the country travel to the south to register Negro voters. Despite the disappearance of three volunteers in Mississippi who are later found dead, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party is formed after blacks are banned from the regular state Democratic. The summer ends with both democratic parties struggling to be recognized at the national convention in Atlantic City.
Episode 6: Bridge to Freedom (1965) Ten years after the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, the civil rights leadership has become more sophisticated in its use of protest strategy.    

The March’(2013) is the story of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, told by the people who organized and participated in it. It includes interviews with some of the key actors; members of the inner circles of the core organizational groups; Hollywood supporters and civil rights campaigners; John F. Kennedy administration officials; and the ordinary people who became part of the crowd of thousands, who thronged to Washington D.C. by all and every means: plane, bus and car. ‘The March’ is the story of discrimination, defiance and victory told by the people who made it happen and whose lives it changed forever. Available on Amazon Video.

"Neshoba" (2008) The 2008 documentary "Neshoba" examines the racial attitudes of Neshoba County residents 40 years after the murder of 3 civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, by the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Although Klansmen bragged openly about what they did in 1964, no one was held accountable until 2005, when the State indicted preacher Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old notorious racist and alleged mastermind of the killings. Through intimate interviews with the families of the victims, candid interviews with black and white Neshoba County Citizens, and exclusive, first time interviews with Killen, the film explores whether healing and reconciliation are possible without telling the unvarnished truth. Available on Amazon Video and iTunes.

"Soundtrack for a Revolution" (2009) Bill Guttentag's 2009 documentary, featuring contemporary artists like The Roots and John Legend, takes a look at the role music played during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Available on Amazon Video.

Alpha Man: The Brotherhood of MLK is a television documentary film that reveals the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s fraternity days as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. The fraternity was also partly responsible for getting the monument on the mall in Washington D.C. Part 1 and Part 2

“King: Man of Peace in a Time of War” A rare TV interview with Martin Luther King, is the centerpiece of this tribute. Exclusive interviews with Jesse Jackson and Colin Powell provide fresh insight into the life and personality of the inspirational civil rights leader. Available on Amazon Video and Hulu.

The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306 (2008) This Oscar-nominated short documentary was released in 2008 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination. The title refers to the balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where a gunman fatally shot King. Filmmaker Adam Pertofsky culls an intimate eyewitness account from the late Samuel Billy Kyles, who was standing just a few feet away from the civil rights hero when it occurred. The picture also provides a clearer understanding of the mission King was on to improve the lives of sanitation workers in the city where he met his demise.

Nine From Little Rock (1964) This 1964 U.S. Information Agency film about the first African-American students to attend an all-white Arkansas high school in 1957 won an academy award in 1965 for Documentary Short Subject. The film was written and directed by Charles Guggenheim, and is narrated by Jefferson Thomas, one of the Little Rock Nine. Available from C-SPAN.


Feature Films

'Ghosts of Mississippi' (1996) Alec Baldwin stars as a dedicated young trial lawyer, and Whoopi Goldberg stars as the widow of renowned civil rights leader Medgar Evers in the true murder story Ghosts Of Mississippi. On June 12, 1963, an assassin's bullet kills Medgar Evers. Available on Amazon Video.

'The Rosa Parks Story' (2002) A fact-based drama chronicling the life of Rosa Parks, the black woman who famously refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in 1950s America. The action prompted a massive outpouring of anger and sparked the rise of the civil rights movement. Angela Bassett, Cicely Tyson and Peter Francis James star.  

'Ruby Bridges' (1998) The inspiring true story of one little girl whose strength and dignity during the racially charged 1960s helped change history! When bright six-year-old Ruby is chosen to be the first African-American to integrate her local New Orleans elementary school, she is subjected to the true ugliness of racism for the very first time. But guided by the love of her mother and father, Ruby’s heroic struggle for a better education becomes a lesson for us all! An acclaimed and entertaining motion picture also starring Penelope Ann Miller and Kevin Pollak – you’ll want to share this remarkable story of courage and pride with your family. Available on Amazon Video, iTunes.                     

The Long Walk Home (1990) Two women, black and white, in 1955 Montgomery Alabama, must decide what they are going to do in response to the famous bus boycott led by Martin Luther King. Available on Amazon Video.

Selma (2014) Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Available on Amazon Video, iTunes.  

Boycott (2001) A cast that includes Jeffrey Wright as King and Terrence Howard as close confidant Ralph Abernathy powers this HBO film based on the book “Daybreak of Freedom.” It gives a behind-the-scenes look at the bus boycott, in which King rallied black citizens into walking to their jobs instead of using public transportation, revealing how such actions took a personal toll beyond the newsreel coverage. This program won a Peabody Award for “refusing to allow history to slip into ‘the past.’” Available on DVD.

The Vernon Johns Story (1994)This biopic follows the life of Vernon Johns (James Earl Jones) -- now known as the father of the civil rights movement -- during the years he preceded Martin Luther King Jr. as minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Johns champions the cause of desegregation, clashing with local white authorities; the more cautious members of his own church; his wife (Mary Alice), who fears he'll lose his pulpit; and his children, who fear he will lose his life.

King aired on NBC over three consecutive nights in 1978, the miniseries benefits from commanding performances by Emmy nominees Paul Winfield as the title character and Cicely Tyson as wife Coretta Scott King. Despite a few historical inaccuracies and a skewed depiction of the Kennedys (Cliff De Young portrays RFK as a seething weasel), the production was among the first to truly humanize the civil rights leader, showing his fears and insecurities along with his charisma and strength. Available on iTunes and YouTube.


Books

The Radical King (King Legacy) Paperback by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,‎ Cornel West
Series: King Legacy (Book 11)
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (January 12, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807034525
ISBN-13: 978-0807034521
“The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking place in capitalist societies. . . . The response of the radical King to our catastrophic moment can be put in one word: revolution—a revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life, and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens. . . . Could it be that we know so little of the radical King because such courage defies our market-driven world?” —Cornel West, from the Introduction.
Available Formats: Kindle, Paperback and Hardback.


Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott by Stewart Burns
Paperback: 392 pages
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; New edition edition (October 20, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807846619
ISBN-13: 978-0807846612
In Daybreak of Freedom, Stewart Burns presents a groundbreaking documentary history of the boycott. Using an extraordinary array of more than one hundred original documents, he crafts a compelling and comprehensive account of this celebrated year-long protest of racial segregation.
Available Formats: Kindle, Paperback and Hardback.

Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, Raymond Arsenault
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press; Abridged edition (March 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0199754314
ISBN-13: 978-0199754311
Arsenault recounts how a group of volunteers--blacks and whites--came together to travel from Washington DC through the Deep South, defying Jim Crow laws in buses and terminals and putting their lives on the line for racial justice. News photographers captured the violence in Montgomery, shocking the nation and sparking a crisis in the Kennedy administration.
Available Formats: Kindle, Paperback and Audiobook.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr., Edited by Clayborne Carson
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Warner Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446676500
ISBN-13: 978-0446676502
Using Stanford University's voluminous collection of archival material, including previously unpublished writings, interviews, recordings, and correspondence, King scholar Clayborne Carson has constructed a remarkable first-person account of Dr. King's extraordinary life.
Available Formats: Kindle, Paperback and Audiobook.


Films for Children

Ages 3-8

“Our Friend, Martin” Wanting to find a way to introduce kids to Dr. King? “Our Friend, Martin” serves up an animated tale about a 12-year-old boy named Miles who would rather play baseball than study. He begrudgingly goes on a field trip to King’s childhood home-turned-museum. While there, Miles gets transported back in time to meet “Martin” at key points in his life. The Emmy-nominated production boasts a loaded celebrity voice cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, John Travolta, Whoopi Goldberg and KC’s own Ed Asner. Available on YouTube.

'Ruby Bridges' (1998) The inspiring true story of one little girl whose strength and dignity during the racially charged 1960s helped change history! When bright six-year-old Ruby is chosen to be the first African-American to integrate her local New Orleans elementary school, she is subjected to the true ugliness of racism for the very first time. But guided by the love of her mother and father, Ruby’s heroic struggle for a better education becomes a lesson for us all! An acclaimed and entertaining motion picture also starring Penelope Ann Miller and Kevin Pollak – you’ll want to share this remarkable story of courage and pride with your family
Available on Amazon Video, iTunes.


Ages 8-12

Selma Lord Selma A Disney film telling the story of a young school girl who is inspired by Dr. King, and how she and a white friend get involved in the movement. Available on DVD.

Ages 12 and over

Selma (2014) Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Available on Amazon Video, iTunes.

42 (2013) The story of Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.It is not focused on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., however it provides a good bit of context for children to understanding the importance of the civil rights movement. This movie has some cursing and the use of racial slurs, but it offers some good lessons on the prevalence of racism in our country at that time. Available on Amazon Video, iTunes.

Remember the Titans (2000) Remember the titans tells the true story of a newly integrated high school football team in Virginia in the 1970s. The movie explores the racial tensions between African-Americans and white people as the town copes with the end of segregation. The movie depicts instances of racism in the town, such as segregation in restaurants and racial slurs between peers. It is an inspirational story with positive role models of both races. Available on iTunes.


Books for Children

March (3 Book Series) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin
Age Range: 8 to adult
ISBN: 978-1603093002
Before he became a respected Congressman, John Lewis was clubbed, gassed, arrested over 40 times, and nearly killed by angry mobs and state police, all while nonviolently protesting racial discrimination. He marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King as the youngest leader of the Civil Rights Movement that would change a nation forever.

Now, experience John Lewis' incredible story first-hand, brought to life in a stunning graphic novel trilogy. With co-writer Andrew Aydin and Eisner Award-winning artist Nate Powell, John Lewis' MARCH tells the story of how a poor sharecropper's son helped transform America, from a segregated schoolhouse to the 1963 March on Washington and beyond.
Available formats:Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle.

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King Jr. (Author),‎ Kathleen A. Wilson (Illustrator)
Age Range: 4 and up
Grade Level: 1 - 2
ISBN-10: 0590205161
ISBN-13: 978-0590205160
King's most famous speech is handsomely interpreted in this lavish volume, which pairs his stirring words with illustrations by 15 Coretta Scott King Award- or Honor-winning artists. Taking as their inspiration King's timeless message, delivered at the famous March on Washington in the summer of 1963, the artists weigh in with an eclectic exhibit that, thanks largely to a simple but elegant book design, succeeds as a unified whole.
Available formats:Hardcover, Paperback and Kindle.

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author),‎ Jerome Lagarrigue (Illustrator)
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 3
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142408948
ISBN-13: 978-0142408940
There were signs all throughout town telling eight-year-old Connie where she could and could not go. But when Connie sees four young men take a stand for equal rights at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, she realizes that things may soon change. This event sparks a movement throughout her town and region. And while Connie is too young to march or give a speech, she helps her brother and sister make signs for the cause. Changes are coming to Connie’s town, but Connie just wants to sit at the lunch counter and eat a banana split like everyone else.
Available formats: Hardcover and Paperback.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down (Jane Addams Honor Book (Awards)) by Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author),‎ Brian Pinkney (Artist)
Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Grade Level: 1 and up
ISBN-10: 0316070165
ISBN-13: 978-0316070164
This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the "whites only" Woolworth's lunch counter. Brian Pinkney embraces a new artistic style, creating expressive paintings filled with emotion that mirror the hope, strength, and determination that fueled the dreams of not only these four young men, but also countless others.
Available formats: Hardcover and Audiobook.