Portraying Dr. King

Much critical ink has been spilled, and deservedly so, on the merits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a writer. King was a master of the language, and indeed his use of the written and spoken word created the center of his power as a leader, and preserved his image as an icon.

[I wrote about this last year on this day]. And of course, King’s image is manifest throughout the documentary arts – in spoken word recreation of his speeches, on television. But what of Dr. King as a character, as a figure worthy of potrayal?

Not much, at least that I know of. The main vehicle was Paul Winfield’s 1978 miniseries portrayal in King, which I saw in reruns on TBS a few years back.

Cicely Tyson played Coretta Scott King, Ossie Davis was the senior Rev. King, veteran TV actor Cliff DeYoung was Bobby Kennedy, Heat of the Night‘s Howard Rollins portrayed Andrew Young, and Tony Bennett played himself.

But I wonder, where are the other King docudramas and feature films? Has he grown too iconic to portray? Or too sainted of memory to be interesting to filmmakers? Nearly three decades after his death, is it time for a major project?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a powerful symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, courageously championed racial justice and equality in America.

Born January 15th 1929 to an Atlanta family struggling for civil rights showed he was meant for leadership from an early age – his devoted advocacy of non-violent protest laid foundation stones on which modern activists continue to build. Through strong determination and unwavering commitment we celebrate MLK as a champion who changed our nation forever!

Martin Luther King Jr.’s timeless leadership lit a spark of hope during the civil rights movement. His historic Montgomery Bus Boycott and “I Have a Dream” speech resounded with millions, reigniting their determination to fight for racial harmony and economic equality on an international stage.

In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s essential role in the Civil Rights Movement was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize – an award he richly deserved for his passionate and self-sacrificing commitment to equity among all races. Despite facing relentless danger in pursuit of justice through nonviolence, he refused to yield nor surrender on behalf of those whose voices were trafficked by prejudice and oppression

Dr. King’s legacy of love, courage, and resilience in the face of hatred has been an inspiration to generations since his tragic assassination on April 4th 1968. His impactful message of hope continues to be a beacon for civil rights movements throughout America even today – providing strength and light when it is most needed.

4 Replies to “Portraying Dr. King

  1. Tom, I think you may be correct about King being too iconic to portray. It is surprising that there hasn’t been more movies or television programs created about him.

  2. The King estate has a whole bunch of stipulations on use of his image and materials. Makes it very difficult for writers to work with, unfortunately.

  3. Oops. I forgot to mention that Dr. King put a copyright on most of his work while he was still alive. It’s not in the public domain, for the most part. Another reason that more movies, etc. aren’t made about him.

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