Today — Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 — is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday that commemorates the birthday of the famous Civil Rights Leader. While many of us enjoy having the day off, this can also be one of those holidays where the focus can be on learning about the person being honored, and their life's work. This is especially important for kids.
There are a lot of ways that people can learn about Dr. King and his missions. Streaming dramas, documentaries and miniseries can be educational and entertaining at the same time. We've put together a collection of great content about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including some specifically designed with kids in mind. Hopefully you can find something perfect to watch on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to help keep his dream alive.
- Award Winner: Selma
- View from the White House: The Butler
- Tragedy turned inspiration: Four Little Girls
- MLK's Impact: Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
- Face the tragedy: MLK: The Assassination Tapes
- HBO Original: Boycott
- HBO Documentary: King in the Wilderness
- A Celebration of Life: I am MLK Jr
- Chasing King's Dream: Against All Odds: The Fight for a Black Middle Class
- Just right for kids: March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World
- Perfect for preschool & elementary: The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Kid President
- King's most famous speech: I have a dream
The epic film focuses on Dr. King Jr.'s historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. This version of push for equal voting rights earned a Best Picture nomination at the 2015 Oscars.
Inspired by a true story, The Butler spans the terms of eight presidents, including the era of the civil rights fight. See how Dr. King Jr.'s actions affected lawmaking and policy.
This documentary covers a terrible church bombing that killed four girls in 1963. Learn about the young victims from those who loved them, through the vision of director Spike Lee.
This powerful miniseries covers the fifty years since MLK and the civil rights movement. It examines how life has changed, with a revealing look into black-American life in each decade.
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. This Smithsonian Channel documentary takes you through this awful event with newly unearthed recordings.
This HBO original movie from 2001 portrays Martin Luther King Jr. at the beginning of his time leading the Civil Rights movement. It focuses on the public bus system boycotts of the 1950s.
HBO took a different approach here, choosing documentary over drama and focusing on the final years of his life. It shows his commitment in the face of hatred, threats, and attacks.
This documentary examines the parallels between modern struggles for equality and Dr. King's work for Civil Rights. It features interviews with famous people from the movement.
Watch as this documentary film looks at black families trying to live a middle class life. It seeks to show barriers and disadvantages of racism that have to be overcome by blacks even today.
Dr. King's sister, Christine collaborated with Scholastic to make this for kids and adults of all ages. She shares personal experiences of her brother's life & his inspiring work..
It's never too early to learn about Dr. King, or his lessons of equality, determination and love. Kid President (Robby Novak) has a short message that gives kids a bite size version of the Dream.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous speech was given at the Civil Rights March on Washington in 1963. Enjoy this powerful, meaningful and short speech today!
This famous and prophetic speech was given by King on April 3, 1968, just one day before he was assassinated. Dr. King said he would not live into equality, but he had seen that its coming.
Picking the best MLK Day shows to stream
This list is so full of great relevant content that it can feel hard to pick what to watch. Nothing can replace reading about a subject, so if you want to start with Dr. King's own words, I highly recommend starting with his "Letter From Birmingham Jail. Once you are ready to go beyond that, I personally enjoyed Selma back when it was part of the Best Picture nominations for the Academy Awards. I saw it as part of a movie marathon, and felt that it stood out in both the quality of the overall production, and how it portrayed Dr. King as a whole person instead of a caricature.
This collection started out from my own personal research in previous years to find programs that could spark conversations with my own young kids. We have talked about Civil Rights and Dr. King before, but watching Kid President's video together made it possible to engage even my preschooler on her own level. This year, we will be watching March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World as a family, and I have already previewed it to make sure it fits for them. I'm excited to see how they respond to hearing from a relative of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the story.
I hope to share one of the documentaries like I am MLK Jr with my kids when they get older for very specific reasons. I learned about Dr. King from my grandparents, who were alive when I was young. I was fortunate to have them around to tell me about being at the March on Washington, or going to non violent protests in Baltimore. I even interviewed them for living history school assignments.
My kids don't have living great-grandparents, and we're quickly losing the last of that generation to share these stories with family first hand. We are lucky to have high quality material that can help the new generation to fill in that gap.
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