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Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the Cinephiliac Way

January 18, 2016

Today marks the celebration of a great leader brought into this realm of existence to continue the fight started by those before him. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped unite this country by reminding us that our feeble, silly little arguments over our insignificant differences have no place in future generations. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King’s message resonated across the entire planet influencing countless movements and policies while also changing the way many people looked at one another and themselves. By fighting for love and peace in a time where the silent majority allowed hate and fear to dominate, Dr. King, along with his fiercely brave supporters, shifted the paradigm that polluted the air of the era. In his honor, if only for two minutes, it’s important to reflect on his legacy and contemplate what you can and will do to continue his fight. Here are a few films and episodes of television shows to watch that may help usher in the essence and inspiration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

1. Selma (2014)

selma-2-main-review-612x330Director Ava DuVernay and screenwriter Paul Webb unravels the powerful saga of Dr. King’s strenuously orchestrated march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama despite a slew of obstacles that stood in his way. Selma is an emotional roller coaster that focuses on the men and women including King’s trusted aids whom laid down their bodies and lives for the chance of a brighter future.

2. “King” (1978)

The “King” mini-series takes some liberties with Dr. King’s personal and professional life, but that doesn’t stop the series from being a prevailing force of nature that teaches and uplifts. The epic four and half hour series spans King’s awakening in the Civil Rights Movement, his place in it, and his death. Paul Winfield and Cecily Tyson deliver heartfelt, phenomenal performances as Dr. King and Coretta Scott King that still hold up today.

3. Selma, Lord, Selma (1999)

Selma, Lord, Selma retells the Selma March through the eyes of the then 9-year-old Sheyann Webb known as the “smallest Freedom Fighter. Sheyann walked with Dr. King during the first of three attempted marches to Montgomery. The march has become infamously known as Bloody Sunday due to the brutal attacks reigned down on the protesters from law officials. Selma, Lord, Selma was a staple to watch around MLK Day in my younger days, one that will always tug at my heart-strings.

4. “The Boondocks” (Return of the King – 2006) 

Sometimes you need a break from all the tragic madness when celebrating Dr. King. The Boondocks’ episode where Dr. King awakes from a coma to discover what became of his people is both thought-provoking and hilarious.

5. The Butler (2013)

THE-BUTLER-Image-660x330Lee Daniels found inspiration in Robert Zemeckis’ Forest Gump by allowing the narrative of The Butler to span a couple of decades allowing audiences into the life of Cecil Gains, an African-American butler in the White House. As time passes, Cecil stays employed during multiple presidencies but must endure the growing changes of the Civil Rights Movement happening around him, a movement that his son has placed himself directly into the middle. Though Martin Luther King isn’t directly in this film, his influence is all over it.

6. What Happened Miss Simone? (2015)

This harrowing documentary focuses on the ups and downs of famed singer Nina Simone. Though Nina made a name for herself as a sultry singer with classically beautiful piano skills, her career and the strength of her voice came alive through the Civil Rights Movements and the effect that Dr. King’s death personally had on her.

SEE THEM ALL. Available on Netflix, YouTube, and DVD.

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