5 Important Contemporaries of MLK

civil rightsMartin Luther King. The name alone inspires a sense of awe. How could a man have accomplished so much, fought against so much oppression and hatred? How could a man who had been sent to jail 29 times simply for standing for his convictions be the same man who gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech? Listening to the audio, how could he have spoken with such confidence and vision?

In short? He had help. Thousands of people volunteered to march with him, to stare down oppression at the lunch counter, or on the bus. Martin Luther King Jr. and his beautiful speeches did not happen in a vacuum. They were inspired by and delivered to the people who shared his dream and worked with him to bring us closer to achieving it.

Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height had the distinction of being the only woman standing behind King on the day he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. But she is perhaps best remembered as a pioneer of intersectional black and women’s rights. In fact, the day after MLK’s speech, she organized a meeting on racism and sexism. She continues her work with the YWCA and four decades leading the National Council of Negro Women.

Asa Philip Randolph

Randolph created the first prominent Africa-American labor union and used the threat of non-violent protest to force the desegregation of the Armed Forces, well before Dr. King came onto the scene. It’s small wonder that MLK referred to him as the “Dean of Negro Leaders.”

Septima Poinsette Clark

When MLK referred to her as the “Mother of the Movement,” he was not exaggerating. To him, her contribution to the civil rights movement were so great that he insisted she travel with him when he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. She is best remembered for founding hundreds of citizenship schools, which taught adult literacy with the aim of increasing black votership.

Bayard Rustin

A close confident of MLK, Bayard Rustin’s most visible contribution to the civil rights movement was organizing the Washington March where MLK gave his most famous speech. He is also notable as one of the few gay men within the leadership of the civil rights movement, although he only became an advocate for gay rights later in life.

Ella Baker

Ella Baker was an instrumental part of the civil rights movement, even working as an executive of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference between 1957 and 1960. She is known for her work with young activists, instilling in them the idea of “group-centric leadership”. She is likely best known for her contentious relationship with MLK and others in the male-dominated civil rights movement. She once said, speaking of MLK, that he was a product of the civil rights movement, not the other way around.

The Civil Rights Movement was the product of thousands of volunteers and activists, and while it is important to recognize Martin Luther King Jr.’s contribution, it must also be acknowledged that no one succeeds in a vacuum.

The 4 Best Documentaries on Black America in the Last 10 Years

documentaryWhether you are trying to build a curriculum, or simply looking to learn a little more about the black civil rights movement, it can be daunting to know where to start. Sure, some things are easy: one of the first things you should do is listen to the audio of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in which MLK perfectly captured the hopes and dreams of an entire centuries-long struggle.

But after that? It can be easy to get lost in the plethora of documentaries and literature that has been produced on the subject. Some, like the documentary Malcolm X by Arnold Perl, have stood the test of time. Others simply haven’t.

With the resurgence of the black civil right movement, led by groups like Black Lives Matter, there has been an increased interest in the original movement and the black experience in the United states.

To help with your search, we’ve gathered four of the best documentaries to come out in the last decade.

The Black Power Mixtape (2011)

The Black Power Mixtape tells the story of the black power movement like it hasn’t been told before. By editing recently discovered footage that had been shot by Swedish journalists in the 1960s and 1970s, director Goran Olsson is able to shape the footage in order to give a compelling look at the rise and the fall of the black power movement, and its tension with MLK’s civil rights movement.

Dark Girls (2011)

Dark Girls is different from some of the other documentaries on this list, as it is more a sociological exploration of colorism. Colorism is the belief that even among black and brown peoples, lighter skin is preferable. The film explores the way colorism pervades the community, creating a $10 billion skin lightening industry worldwide.

13th (2016)

13th explores the eponymous constitutional amendment and its ramifications, especially in the industrial prison complex. The documentary takes care to show the ways that black communities are affected by political actions such as the war on drugs. It does not shy away from the sad fact of black American life, where the average family is 13% poorer than the average white family, or where you are significantly more likely to go to jail for a crime a white person would not be charged for.

I Am Not Your Negro (2017)

Based on an unfinished manuscript of black master author James Baldwin, this documentary is a rumination on the lives and deaths of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Medger Evers, as well as an exploration of the discrimination at the time and why it persists to this day.

While these four documentaries are fantastic, they are in no way a comprehensive list. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of your discovery.

A Brief History of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was, and continues to be, a great inspiration in the fight for civil rights. The audio of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech remains one of the most moving and powerful speeches ever presented. Here is a brief look into the life of a man who would become one of the most famous civil right’s leaders of all time.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. Hailing from Georgia, King had a long history of Baptist ministers in his family. His family life was comfortable and loving, but Martin was exposed to racism despite all that. His father, Martin Luther King Sr., fought against racism, instilling these strong beliefs into his son very early on.

King then went on to go to college in 1948 and earned a sociology degree. He was a very good student and constantly at the top of his class. It was here he become more spiritually aware, and began to believe Christianity could be used to inflict positive social changes on the world.

King’s first entrance into the spotlight came because of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He soon became a figurehead and powerful speaker for the injustice and cruelty facing black people during this time. King would go on to speak at over 2500 events and deliver around 450 speeches per year. His powerful and passionate words paved the way for great change in America.

His most famous speech was delivered in the summer of 1963. The “I Have A Dream” speech was King’s attempt to get Washington to really listen. And, even if in the end it did not have his immediate, desired effect, it has stood the test of time through video, audio and written accounts of that momentous day.

On April 4th, 1968, King was assassinated while standing on his balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The shooter, James Earl Ray, eluded police for two months before he was captured. He was tried and eventually sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Although King’s life was suddenly taken from him, his words never left the hearts of the American people. His speeches continue to inspire every leader and follower of civil rights.
For more info on King and his legacy, please visit kingprogram.net

Dr. Bernice A. King, MLK’s Daughter, Continues the Fight for Equality

On August 28, 1968, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, American icon and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. gave the most historic speech in all of history. Martin Luther King Jr. spent years fighting for civil rights, leading thousands 2,000 people on a 5 day, 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery Alabama, joint jail nearly 30 times for the cause, and penned a letter from the Birmingham Jail that encouraged millions to help change the world.

Sadly, despite making significant progress over the last 50 years, we are still far behind the times. Discrimination still exists in force but now hides behind digital anonymity and code words, although there are plenty of examples that are certainly out in the open. And black families are still much poorer than white families and are often treated unfairly by law enforcement and other authoritative figures.

Luckily, Martin Luther King’s legacy lives on and people are fighting for equal rights across the world. One of those civil rights activists is actually his daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King. Dr. King recently spoke at East Tennessee State University to talk about how she continued her parents’ legacy over the years.

According to The Erwin Record, Dr. King is the Chief Executive Officer of The King Center, which was founded by her mother, Coretta Scott King, in 1968, shortly after MLK was shot and killed. The King Center’s Board of Trustees appointed Dr. King to her CEO position in 2012, after years of proving she has the same message as her mother and late father.

Dr. Bernice A. King spoke at her mother’s stead at the United Nations when she was only 17 years old.

“What I’m trying to do is fulfill what my father said, which is, ‘We have to find a way to live together as brothers and sisters, or together we’re going to perish as fools,'” Dr. King said.

We still have a long way to go in order to live in the world that Dr. MLK dreamed of, but as long as we have inspiring leaders like his daughter and others, there will always be people fighting for progress. Check out the famous MLK speech and documentary at KingProgram.net.

‘Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee’ Premieres Sunday, Jan 17 on Centric TV For MLK Jr. Day Holiday

ruby dee (screenshot)

*For more than a half century, audiences have been mesmerized by the love story between Hollywood legends Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee. Now, their grandson Muta’Ali unearths the foundation of this unbreakable bond in the documentary Life’s “Essentials with Ruby Dee,” which premieres on Centric TV Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 3:00pm EST.

Through intimate conversations with the award-winning actress, playwright and activist, Muta’Ali not only discovers intimate details about his grandparents’ relationship, but also questions his ability to carry on the very dynasty that gave him life. In the film, the director breaks the wall between himself and his subject to ask heartfelt questions of his grandmother. “How do you stay faithful? And if I can’t see myself doing that, how can I honestly get married knowing that I could eventually break the heart of the woman I love?”

“I can’t say I didn’t do anything to make Ossie unhappy…” Ms. Dee states as she carefully reveals the core commitment made between her and Mr. Davis. Her answer only sparked more questions for Muta’Ali, provoking him to dig deeper into the family archives and the history of Davis and Dee’s union.

He chronicles their remarkable journey as trailblazers in the arts community and activists in the Civil Rights Movement. Muta’Ali also shares exclusive video footage, family photos and memorabilia. In addition, a host of celebrity friends like Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Hill Harper, Samuel Jackson, Spike Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Phylicia Rashad, Glynn Turman, Dr. Cornel West, Sonia Sanchez and Malik Yoba share eyewitness accounts of this American legacy.

Muta’Ali brilliantly captures his grandmother’s perspective about life’s essentials: love, marriage, commitment, conscious art and activism. The film preserves the wisdom of Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee for many longing to create a tradition of rich living that impacts today’s society.

In honor of Black History Month, the film will also be digitally released February 1st via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee won “Best Documentary” and “Audience Choice Award” at the 2014 BronzeLens Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter said, “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee ultimately emerges as a deeply impassioned, thoughtful and loving portrait that brings a much deserved spotlight to these vitally important artists who contributed so much to American culture and politics.”

To speak with Muta’Ali regarding Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee, please contact Yaminah Ahmad, Public Relations Counselor, The Terrie Williams Agency at 404-861-0497 or [email protected]

For more information on the film, visit http://rubydee.lifesessentialsdocs.com/

About the Director

Muta’Ali has produced seven feature-length documentaries for recording artists under international record labels, including: Def Jam Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Atlantic Records. His content has appeared on CBS, BET, VH1 and MTV. Rounding out his range of production experience, Muta’Ali has produced three diverse, pop-culture-focused web series. He has also produced scripted and/or reality-based productions for clients including The Mo’Nique Show and Ebony/Jet Magazine.

About the Producer

Brooklyn-born film producer Jevon “NJ” Frank has an instinctive talent for photography and film. His passionate, notable projects are known for their thought provoking impact. For more than a decade, NJ has established a broad, devoted portfolio of clients including: AAA, The Mo’Nique Show, Michael Mauldin’s Fastlife 360, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Universal Music Recording artists Bun B., Atlantic Music Recording artist T.I. and Johnson Publications’ EBONY and JET Magazines. NJ recently wrapped production on Submit: The Reality of Cyber Bullying, a documentary which he hopes will bring awareness to the growing problem of individuals spreading hate and humiliation through social networks and other forms of electronic communications.





Yaminah Ahmad
Public Relations Counselor
The Terrie Williams Agency
[email protected]


In Honor of MLK Day US Park Service won’t Charge Admission to National Parks

national park service (logo)

*If you haven’t heard, the US Park Service announced that admission to all national parks will be free on Jan. 18 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Yep, that’s to Dr. King (and the Park Service), you won’t have to pat to visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona or Yellowstone in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho (on Jan. 18).

The MLK Day promotion is part of events commemorating the National Park Service’s centennial. There will be 16 days in all this year in which admission is free to parks and historical sites run by the NPS.

The NPS operates several sites tied to key moments in King’s life and the civil rights movement, such as King’s childhood home in Atlanta and a memorial near the National Mall in Washington, but these sites are free every day.

The 54-mile trail from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery — along which King and thousands of protesters marched in 1965 to demand voting rights — is also part the NPS.

h/t: the huffington post

Civil Rights Icon John Lewis to Have Navy Ship Named in His Honor

john lewis (at mic)

Congressman John Lewis

*(Via Latin Post) – The U.S. Navy announced Wednesday that it will name a ship after Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia to honor his legacy as a civil rights hero and tireless fighter for freedom in America.

Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus said in a press release that naming a United States Navy replenishment oiler after Lewis “is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation,” according to NBC News.

The vessel, on which construction will begin in 2018, will be “the first ship of the next generation of fleet replenishment oilers,” he said. Oilers are ships responsible for providing fuel replenishment along with fleet cargo and store to ships at sea.

“As the first of its class, the future USNS John Lewis will play a vital role in the mission of our Navy and Marine Corps while also forging a new path in fleet replenishment,” Mabus said.

In an interview with NBCBLK, Lewis said he cried when first learned that a ship would be named after him. He added that Mabus paid a visit to his office a few months ago to tell him about the idea in person.

“He said, ‘I have been so moved and inspired by your work and others during the civil rights movement. My idea is to name a ship in your honor,'” Lewis said.

Read the FULL story at Latin Post.

Civil Rights Probe Opened by FBI into Shooting of Unarmed Man by Chicago Police Officers

cop with gun drawn

*(Via Raw Story) – The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the 2013 shooting death by Chicago police of a man whose family says was unarmed when two officers opened fire on him in his car, officials said on Saturday.

Interim Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante, who was appointed last month, said in a statement he had placed the two officers on administrative duties after recently learning of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe.

The revelation of the FBI probe follows large street demonstrations in Chicago over police use of force, and an announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice last month that it was investigating practices at the city’s Police Department.

The family of Esau Castellanos in a wrongful death lawsuit filed last year in federal court disputed the accounts of two Chicago police officers, Shawn Lawryn and Juan Martinez, who shot the man.

The officers said they fired at him, striking him three times, after he opened fire on them, even though investigators found no gun in his car, the lawsuit stated.

Castellanos, a father of three from Mexico, delivered pizzas for a living, according to the Chicago Tribune.

He was shot to death after he crashed his car while driving under the influence of alcohol with the two officers on his tail, according to the newspaper, which first reported on the FBI investigation.

The FULL report is waiting for you at Raw Story.

Martin Luther King Legacy Week Events (in LA) Start Jan. 12

martin luther king jr

*Los Angeles, CA  – On King Holiday, Monday, January 18, 2016, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLC-SC) will hold their annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Awards & Benefit Gala in the Grand Ballroom at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles.

“This year’s King Legacy Awards recipients reflect excellence in promoting equality and justice in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” said Honorary Chairperson Matthew M. Johnson, Esq., President of the LA Police Commission and Managing Partner, Ziffren Brittenham LLP, “I’m excited to be a part of such a prestigious event that supports the mission of continuing to uphold and expand Dr. King’s dream.”

Hosted by actor William Allen Young of CBS drama, “Code Black,” the theme of the evening is ‘Bending the Arc & Breaking Barriers.’

“We are attempting to involve more programs and people from a cross section of the community, because that is how Dr, King lived” said Pastor William D. Smart Jr., President/CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California.  “As we rebuild the movement it takes all of us participating and working together.”

The 2016 SCLC-SC King Legacy Awards honorees are: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; DeVon Franklin, best-selling author and President/CEO of Sony Studios-based Franklin Entertainment; Ken Maxey,Comcast Director of External Affairs, California Region; and Charisse Bremond Weaver, President/CEO of the Brotherhood Crusade.

Get the rest of this article at EURweb.com.


Martin Luther King Assassination Film ‘Memphis’ Back on Track


*Suddenly, 44 years after his assassination, there’s a lot of interest in Martin Luther King Jr. by filmmakers.

At one point last year “Memphis” was one of 5 MLK productions in the pipeline … all at varying stages of development.

The bottom line is that only ONE of the five projects has the backing of the King estate. That would be the undertaking from the Oprah Winfrey/HBO/Steven Spielberg/DreamWorks coalition

Hold on. Not so fast. Now it appears that “Memphis” is back on track after being in limbo for the past year or so, according to Shadow and Act.

Last we wrote about the Paul Greengrass-directed MLK assassination pic, “Memphis,” which was once a sure-thing, the studio backing it, Universal Pictures, had backed out of financing and distributing the film.

Why? Word on the street was that there was pressure from the MLK estate (and Andrew Young’s objections) to call off the project, because they were unhappy with the script.

The film, which was supposed to focus on the events leading up to King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, while he was trying to organize the city’s sanitation workers in spring of 1968; but it would have also highlighted his infidelity, which there was strong opposition to. It will also focus on the manhunt for James Earl Ray.

Tonight, Deadline is reporting that the project looks to be alive again, with French distribution company Wild Bunch getting behind the project, and super producer Scott Rudin producing, after almost a year in hiatus, and it just might be up next for Greengrass.

Meanwhile, entertainment industry blog Deadline also says that they’ve read the script, and called “Oscar caliber stuff.”

Read/learn more at Shadow and Act.