On April 4, 1968, an assassin’s bullet ended Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. For several months leading up to that, Dr. King was being filmed by a crew from THIRTEEN’s Public Broadcasting Laboratory series as they followed his Poor People’s Campaign. The film was hurriedly finished and broadcast the week following the assassination. It included PBL photographer Joseph Louw’s eyewitness testimony about photographing the slain Dr. King at the scene of his murder. Free at Last – Martin Luther King, Jr. won an Emmy Award for Best Documentary.
This Emmy-winning production by an early experimental public affairs series began streaming for the first time ever on THIRTEEN in April 2018. Watch the film on THIRTEEN Specials.
Free at Last – Martin Luther King, Jr. is a cinema-verite film that provides an insightful, behind-the-scenes portrait of the man and his mission – as Dr. King toured southern Black communities, planning and organizing the Poor Peoples’ Campaign and March on Washington.
Informed and resolute in the opening scenes, Dr. King was prescient particularly on matters of economic inequality. The film is both touching and eerie: in one scene Dr. King is feted at an impromptu 39th birthday party, in another we see him discussing violent threats against his life and those of others. In yet another scene Dr. King, the Reverend James Bevel, and Jesse Jackson explain the powerful tactic of nonviolence.
At the film’s conclusion, Dr. King decides that he will take time away from the tour to speak at a local rally in support of a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, TN. He makes plans to rejoin the THIRTEEN production crew and continue his Poor People’s Campaign and March tour. It was a promise he would not be able to keep.
Stream Free at Last – Martin Luther King, Jr., here or under THIRTEEN Specials on the THIRTEEN Explore app and PBS platforms.