Citizen King 

2004 Full Frame/Emerging Pictures Audience Award.

On a steamy afternoon in August 1963, a thirty-four-year-old minister gave a speech that enthralled a crowd of more than two hundred thousand people gathered at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial, and millions more across the country who watched on television. What came to be known as the “I Have A Dream” speech was a high point in the public career of Martin Luther King, Jr. But it was also a turning point in his personal life, as he embarked on a controversial, often lonely struggle to redefine and redirect the movement he had helped lead. The quest would not end until his untimely death five years later.

American Experience presents Citizen King, a two-hour documentary from acclaimed filmmakers Orlando Bagwell (Africans in America, Malcolm X: Make It Plain) and Noland Walker (This Far by Faith, Africans in America). Citizen King explores the last five years in King’s life by drawing on the personal recollections and eyewitness accounts of friends, movement associates, journalists, law enforcement officers, and historians, to illuminate this little-known chapter in the story of America’s most important and influential moral leader.

Citizen King shows how, in his crusade for economic justice and an end to war, King found himself at odds not only with white American leadership, but also with many influential black leaders. He and his family were harassed daily with threats against his life and theirs. He questioned the values of his country and its preoccupation with material gain, and was distraught by the silence of a great many of his fellow Christian clergy. Yet through it all, he remained steadfast in his profound spiritual commitment to the human rights of all people and to the way of non-violence and creative peacemaking.

“This is not a film about the last days of a great leader,” says Bagwell. “Rather, it is the story of a man losing fear, gaining courage and becoming great.”

Please click here to watch the trailer.

 

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