Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movies to Celebrate the Life and Work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

posted by Nell Minow

This weekend we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King and every family should take time to talk about this great American leader and hero of the Civil Rights Movement. There are outstanding films for all ages.

Every family should watch the magnificent movie Boycott, starring Jeffrey Wright as Dr. King, and should study the history of the Montgomery bus boycott that changed the world. This website has video interviews with the people who were there. This newspaper article describes Dr. King’s meeting with the bus line officials. It is important to note that he was not asking for complete desegregation; that seemed too unrealistic a goal. And this website has assembled teaching materials, including the modest reminder to the boycotters once segregation had been ruled unconstitutional that they should “demonstrate calm dignity,” “pray for guidance,” and refrain from boasting or bragging. Families should also read They Walked To Freedom 1955-1956: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Paul Winfield has the lead in King, a brilliant and meticulously researched NBC miniseries co-starring Cecily Tyson that covers King’s entire career.


The Long Walk Home, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek, makes clear that the boycott was a reminder to black and white women of their rights and opportunities — and risk of change.

Citizen King is a PBS documentary with archival footage of Dr. King and his colleagues. Martin Luther King Jr. – I Have a Dream has his famous speech in full, still one of the most powerful moments in the history of oratory and one of the most meaningful moments in the history of freedom.


For children, Our Friend, Martin and Martin’s Big Words are a good introduction to Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement.

  • ChatteringMind

    Movie Mom,
    We found “Citizen King” on Netflix and sat our busy 13- and 11-year-old sons in front of the TV last Monday night to watch it. They didn’t think it was necessary to do anything special on MLK Day, since like a lot of kids today, it’s thought to be a great day off school to relax and hang out. But my husband and I have always believed that we should do something more meaningful–like volunteer, or make charitable contributions–in mid- January in honor of the man and his birthday. Thanks to you and your film recommendations, we watched the full two hours of the documentary and talked King, racism today, working for peace and all kinds of good things. The boys went to bed that night very fulfilled and happy. Thanks so much!

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