Top 5 Martin Luther King Jr.
Movies and Documentaries

martin luther king movies and documentaries

Five Outstanding Films about Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the most famous Black Civil Rights Leader in history. There have been countless programs about him, but we have compiled this list of what we consider the five best movies and documentaries about Martin Luther King, Jr.

No list is complete without Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech "I Have a Dream" which is available on DVD. However, we have included four other documentaries and movies that we believe provide fascinating insight into his life and the Civil Rights Movement.

There's a cartoon geared toward children named "Our Friend Martin" which adults will like as well. Then, there's the excellent TV movie starring Paul Winfield and Cicely Tyson named "King."

Two very different but intriguing documentaries are "King: A Filmed Record from Montgomery to Memphis" and "Citizen King." If you watch both of these documentaries, you will learn a lot about Martin Luther King that is not often discussed but provide a fuller picture of his life.

Citizen King (Documentary)

citizen king "This is not a film about the last days of a great leader. Rather, it is the story of a man losing fear, gaining courage and becoming great."
Orlando Bagwell, Director "Citizen King"

Using personal interviews with friends, family and close associates, this excellent documentary delves into the last five years of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life to offer fresh insights into the pressures and triumphs he encountered during this pivotal time in American history.

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King (Movie)

kingThis made-for-television miniseries first aired on NBC in 1978.  It starts from when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Atlanta, providing a dramatic biography about his rise as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

Paul Winfield stars as Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. and Cicely Tyson stars as Coretta Scott King.  Both of them were nominated for Emmy Awards for their portrayals in this movie.

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Our Friend Martin (Animated Cartoon)

our friend martin dvdThis little-known cartoon is only available on VHS video.  The story is told from the perspective of an African-American teenager named Miles who has to go on a class field trip to study Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Miles isn’t interested in going, but when he and his friend are transported back in time, he finally understands the historical importance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. King’s relevance to his life today.

This movie was made in collaboration with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family. His children Dexter and Yolanda King are voices for two of the characters.

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Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream (Speech)

martin luther king i have a  dreamThe “I Have a Dream Speech” is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech.  This DVD shows the actual speech being delivered by Dr. King in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  There is no other way to fully appreciate the emotional impact of this speech without seeing it firsthand.


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King: A Filmed Record…From Montgomery to Memphis(Documentary)

king a filmed record from montgomery to memphisThis documentary was selected for the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1999, meaning that it has significant cultural or social value for the entire country and should be preserved for future generations.  “King: A Filmed Record” contains powerful film images of the nonviolent protests and of Dr. King’s final moments of life.  Very little narration is used because the intent is to let the actual historical footage speak for itself.

Unfortunately, this documentary has never been released on DVD and is very hard-to-find on VHS video. 
Occasionally, VHS video copies become available through sellers at Amazon and Ebay.  Use the links below to see if copies are currently available.
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