Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 Years After His Death
A lot of people know exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968.
That was 50 years ago, and some people remember the day of that tragic even as if it had just happened.
50 Years Ago
King was only 39 years old when he was killed in Memphis, Tennessee. On the date that marks the 50th anniversary of his death, specials are being aired on television all day long, and communities are holding events in memory of his death.
Days leading up to the actual anniversary date, television networks aired three documentaries that remind viewers about what happened before and during the time of King's death.
The life and legacy are still subjects of interest to people worldwide. That says a lot about someone who lived half a century ago.
April 1 - "Hope & Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media"
On Easter Sunday, April 1, MSNBC aired "Hope & Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media." It was the third airing of the two-hour documentary. The original airing was on NBC on March 24 and hosted by Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and on MSNBC on March 25. The program focused on how the civil rights activist was covered in the media.
That was long before social media and technology ruled the world like today. Even so, there is enough footage on file for people to get see how the civil rights activist was covered in the news.
"Hope and Fury" is an account of civil rights leaders and reporters who chronicled King's life and legacy and explained how his ideas still fit into today's civic the movement, journalists from across generations, as well as present-day activists who have adopted the tactics of their forbearers to shine a light on inequality in the modern era. The film offers a fresh look at the historic civil rights movement and combines first-hand personal recollections with rare, archival footage and photographs - some of which will be broadcast on network television for the first time.
April 2 - "King in the Wilderness"
HBO aired a documentary on April 2 entitled "King in the Wilderness." It featured news accounts from 1968 to 2014. The coverage was a look back at the final years in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
King's "I Have a Dream" speech was highlighted that people have been inspired by over the last 50 years. He gave the speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963 in front of a crowd of almost 250,000 people.
Variety says the documentary humanized what King went through during his last 18 month on earth.
April 4 - "I Am MLK Jr."
The Paramount network will air "I Am MLK Jr." that highlights activism during King's Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington.
During the program, older civil rights leader Jesse Jackson will be featured as well as modern-day celebrities such as Van Jones and Nick Cannon. Shaun King, a key figure in Black Lives Matter will also be featured in an interview that illustrates how Dr. King's legacy is still an inspiration and example of activism today.
The documentary looks at Dr. King's experience and his legacy through five of his greatest events:
- The Montgomery Bus Boycott
- The Birmingham Campaign
- March on Washington
- The Selma Movement
- The Assassination and Legacy
The Younger Generation
It is amazing how many young people are inspired by what they have heard about Dr. King even though they were not even born during the time King was living and speaking out for civil rights.
The younger generation knows about King only through television coverage. His memory is being kept alive by people who knew and supported him as well as those who learned about him only after his death.