Parents' Guide to

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective

By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Excellent overview of Dr. King's life and legacy.

Movie NR 1994 52 minutes
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This is a comprehensive and brief overview of Dr. King's life, actions, and legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Historical Perspective does a solid job of providing a basic context to who Dr. King was, how he was influenced to practice nonviolence, the challenges in maintaining nonviolent responses to the vicious responses of state and local officials as well as White supremacists, and how his words and actions inspired a nation to confront Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the lasting damage of slavery and racism in all forms. It effectively captures the chaos and unrest of 1960s America, and the less-discussed aspects of Dr. King's activism after his immortal "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, such as his opposition to the Vietnam War, and leading marches and protests against the institutional racism of larger northern cities that manifested itself in poverty and inadequate housing.

It's a documentary from 1994, and there are some dated production values that make the documentary seem like it's best viewed in a junior high social studies class, but in spite of these dated production values, a great deal of information is presented about Dr. King and his life and legacy in a short amount of time, and for those unfamiliar with who Dr. King was and what he stood for, this is a great place to start. It has enough detail to encourage further reading or viewing of specific moments in the life of Dr. King and of the Civil Rights Movement. It's informative and best viewed by those who haven't learned all that they should about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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