The story begins on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, when a 34-year-old preacher galvanized millions with his dream for an America free of racism. It comes to a bloody end almost five years later, on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee.
In the years since those events unfolded, the man at their center, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has become a mythic figure, a minister whose oratory is etched into the minds of millions of Americans, a civil rights activist whose words and image are more hotly contested, negotiated and sold than almost anyone else’s in American history.
Citizen King pushes past the myths that have obscured King’s story to reclaim the history of a people’s leader. Using the personal recollections, diaries, letters, and eyewitness accounts of friends, family, journalists, law enforcement officers and historians, this film brings fresh insights to King’s difficult journey, his charismatic — if at times flawed — leadership, and his truly remarkable impact.
American Experience presents Citizen King, a two-hour documentary from acclaimed filmmakers Orlando Bagwell (Africans in America, Malcolm X: Make It Plain) and Noland Walker (This Far by Faith, Africans in America). Citizen King explores the last five years in King’s life by drawing on the personal recollections and eyewitness accounts of friends, movement associates, journalists, law enforcement officers, and historians, to illuminate this little-known chapter in the story of America’s most important and influential moral leader.