Each January 15, we take time to honor a legend of the civil rights movement. Beginning in 1986, the third Monday of the month was reserved for commemorating the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. King earned this honor through his work as an activist for the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience.
As an American Baptist, King drew on his Christian beliefs to lead the Civil Rights Movement, though community events, speeches and demonstrations. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr spoke at over 2500 public events in his life and delivered up to 450 speeches a year. And these efforts were not in vain. Thanks in part to King’s work, the 88th Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in pubic facilities and schools.
This historic legislation marked unparalleled recognition of the injustice that King worked so hard to combat. But over 63 years later, there is still progress to be made. As of 2015, for example, black families were on average 13 times poorer than their white counterparts. Here are the five best documentaries, films, recordings and audio to watch to best honor Mr. King’s legacy:
- Malcom X
- Lee Daniels’ The Butler
- All The Way
This 2014 feature film chronicles the epic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Led by Martin Luther King, this march aimed to secure equal voting rights for African Americans.
In this Spike Lee-directed film, Denzel Washington portrays leader Malcom X from childhood to his death. Washington won an Oscar nomination for the role
This Forest Whitaker-led film follows Cecil Gaines, a butler who serves eight presidents during his tenure in the White House. Gaines witnesses first hand the major impact of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement.
This musical follows the desegregation of a television dance show during the Civil Rights Movement. Unlike its docudram counterparts, this film is one cohesive, fun journey from opening to closing tune.
Starring Bryan Cranston and Anthony Mackie, this HBO docudram follows President Lyndon B. Johnson as he struggles to pass the Civil Rights Act. Mackie portrays Martin Luther King Jr. as he fights alongside the concurrent administration. Don’t miss this docudram!