We recently saw Selma - the Oscar-nominated (and snubbed) film about the 1965 march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, AL. It tells the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and John Lewis, as they fought for civil rights for black Americans.
I loved David Oweloyo's portrayal of King, including the difficulties he faced within his marriage. It is an incredibly powerful experience to remember that the legend that is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a very real man with problems and flaws and struggles all this own. It is the same experience I had when reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X - the connection you feel to a historical figure when you remember they were a human being just like you.
To me, it is important because it not only takes Dr. King. out of the history books, but also the struggle for which he fought so hard. As today's holiday approached and school lessons filled with stories of Dr. King, my son and I have spent a lot of time talking about the work of MLK. I find it so difficult to impart the ongoing struggle of civil rights without taking away from the successes of Dr. King's life and work.
I want him to be so much more than a speech to my children.
One of my favorite ways to remember there was a very real human being behind his famous speech is Freedom's Ring illustration of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech. The video is a beautifully illustrated representation but also allows you to see the edits Dr. King made to his written speech and the way it varies from the famous spoken version.
Something about seeing his edits and thinking about how he must have worked and stressed over the speech makes the entire thing seem so much more real.