King: A Filmed Record
EXCLUSIVE: Rarely Seen Film “King: A Filmed Record” Traces MLK’s Struggle from Montgomery to Memphis
In a Black History Month special, we air excerpts of a rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the rise of the civil rights movement. Produced by Ely Landau, “King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis” is made from original newsreel footage and other original video footage shot of marches, rallies and church services. “King” was originally screened for one night only in 1970 in more than 600 theaters across the United States, but has rarely been seen since. We air extensive footage of the film, featuring a historic look at the eight-year period that led up to the 1963 March on Washington, D.C. [includes rush transcript]
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This week marks the final week of Black History Month, and this year, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of a pivotal year in America’s civil rights movement. On August 28th, 1963, an estimated quarter of a million people joined the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Well, today we spend the hour featuring an historic look at the movement that led up to that March on Washington. We air major excerpts of the rarely seen 1970 documentary King: A Filmed Record…From Montgomery to Memphis. The film was directed by Sidney Lumet and produced by Ely Landau, largely made from original newsreel footage. The film was played at a one-time-only event March 24th, 1970, in theaters across the country. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and is listed in the National Film Registry. But ever since 1970, the documentary has been rarely seen—until now, as the distributors of the film have given us permission to share it with you. The film has just been released as a two-DVD set by Kino Lorber.
It begins December 1955 with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressing a full church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was just days after Rosa Parks was arrested. The African community—the African-American community in Montgomery had gathered to decide whether to begin what became the famous Montgomery bus boycott.
REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: It has been moved and seconded that the resolution as read will be received and adopted. Are you ready for the question? All in favor, let it be known by standing on your feet.
That was the day that we started a bus protest which literally electrified the nation, and that was the day when we decided that we were not going to take segregated buses any longer. And, you know, when we planned the bus boycott, we said if we could just get about 50 or 60 percent of the Negroes of Montgomery not to ride buses, this would be an effective boycott. I think that whole day we found eight Negroes on the buses. And from that day on, that boycott was more than 99.9 percent effective.
I remember that Monday morning when I was subpoenaed to be in court, the chief defender. Many things ran through my mind. And I started thinking about the people, all day long trying to think of something to say to the people. Finally, I arrived to the pulpit. My words were fumbling a bit.