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Martin Luther King And Tavis Film Analysis

1388 words - 6 pages

In the PBS film by Tavis Smiley, “MLK: A Call to Conscience,” Tavis explored Martin Luther King’s stand against the Vietnam War and the influence of his legacy today. Tavis reached out to scholars, associates and personal friends of Dr. King who gave personal accounts of their feelings toward MLK and his movements. These events will also be supported by evidence from two other films, “Eyes on the Prize: Episode 4” which profiled MLK’s last year prior to his assassination, and “The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.” which provided additional details in regard to the FBI’s potential conspiracy against Dr. King.

This film was chosen as my main source for analysis due to a personal ...view middle of the document...

After his speech, his alliance and relationship with President Johnson would be damaged beyond repair and would jeopardize the movement since Johnson was known as the best civil rights supporter since Lincoln. Civil rights leaders became angry and felt MLK should not take on a fight for the war when the fight for civil rights was still to be won. The SCLC publicly announced discontent for MLK in his stance on the war. The NAACP called MLK’s stance a “serious tactical mistake” to merge civil rights movements and peace drives and feared the fallout to both causes. MLK would soon begin to lose the respect of those who listened to him. The Washington Post, typically a war supporter printed, “He has diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country and to his people.” The NY Times, a war critic would also post, “…the political strategy of uniting the peace movement and the civil rights movement could very well be disastrous for both causes.”

In considering the effectiveness of this film and its strengths and weaknesses in regard to documenting history, Tavis attempts to reveal how the Vietnam conflict and Dr. King’s speech has a relevance to us today with the growing division at home between the rich and the poor and growing issues of war between Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. What we know about MLK, there is no doubt that he would still be fighting the same fight today. However, there are still people today who think MLK’s philosophy would not work and is obsolete in today’s world, even though the current conflicts are a repetition of Vietnam. Tavis also attempts to get a response by his audience in identifying similarities between now and then. The analogy of Vietnam compared to the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are similar in that they are costing America millions and billions of dollars and the country’s attention. The Vietnam War destroyed society’s poverty programs that could have transformed race and poverty in this country and not very different to what is going on in our country today. When President Obama spoke at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony he underscores MLK and his legacy by stating, “we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetime” and also says that there are going to be times when we will find “use of force not only necessary but morally justified.” But when Obama stated as the head of state sworn to protect his nation and could not be “guided by their examples alone” in reference to the creeds of MLK and Ghandi, he generated disappointment from some of MLKs followers. Obama feels he cannot stand idle while threats are being made to the American people. Obama stated that negotiations with Al Qa’ida leaders do not work in the current climate of terror, others also took exception to understanding these implications. Harry Belafonte points out that no one knows terror better than black people and MLK lived in terror daily. He was surrounded by murder, his own home was bombed, his family in jeopardy, he...

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