Dn! In Depth

Martin Luther King Jr. & the Civil Rights Movement

This pages features rarely seen speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aired on Democracy Now!, as well as interviews with and about his colleagues in the Civil Rights Movement, including Vincent Harding, who co-wrote MLK’s Speech Against Vietnam War; Gloria Richardson, who was set to speak at the 1963 March on Washington; Sarah Collins Rudolph, often referred to as the "fifth victim" in the Ku Klux Klan’s bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama; historian Taylor Branch on the Kennedys’ aversion to Dr. King’s struggle; and much more.

Top Stories

  • Screenshot2015-01-19at8.26.25am
    In a Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio Archives exclusive, we air a newly discovered recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On December 7, 1964, days before he received the Nobel Peace...
    Jan 19, 2015 | Story
  • King-afilmrecorded-1
    In a Black History Month special, we air excerpts of a rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the rise of the civil rights movement. Produced by Ely...
    Feb 25, 2013 | Story
  • Harding2008-3
    Today we spend the hour remembering the pioneering historian, theologian and civil rights activist Dr. Vincent Harding. He died on May 19 at the age of 82 in Philadelphia. He lived in...
    May 26, 2014 | Story
  • Gloriarichardson4
    Fifty years ago this week, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, A Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and other civil rights leaders spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. But where were the female civil rights activists? At the historic march, only one woman spoke for just more than a minute: Daisy Bates of the NAACP. Today we are joined by civil rights pioneer Gloria Richardson, the co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action...
    Aug 27, 2013 | Story
  • Mlk
    Today is the federal holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was born January 15th, 1929. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just 39 years old. While Dr. King is primarily remembered as a civil rights leader, he also championed the cause of the poor and organized the Poor People’s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. Dr. King was also a fierce critic of U.S. foreign...
    Jan 20, 2014 | Story
  • Rosa_parks_-_100th_anniversary
    Born on Feb. 4, 1913, today would have been Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday. On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her act of resistance led to a 13-month boycott of the Montgomery bus system that would help spark the civil rights movement. Today we spend the hour looking at Rosa Parks’ life with historian Jeanne Theoharis, author of the new book, "The...
    Feb 04, 2013 | Story
  • Sarahcollinsrudolph2
    Fifty years ago this week, four young girls — Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins — were killed when the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The bombing came less than a month after the landmark March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Hundreds gathered in the nation’s capital last week to honor their memory when lawmakers posthumously awarded the girls...
    Sep 17, 2013 | Story
  • Birmingham-bombing2
    Part two of our conversation with Sarah Collins Rudolph, who is often referred to as the "fifth victim" of the Sept. 15, 1963, bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Rudolph’s sister, Addie Mae Collins, was killed along with three other young girls. Collins Rudolph was hit with shards of glass, lost an eye and was hospitalized for months. She is struggling to pay her medical bills. [includes rush...
    Sep 17, 2013 | Web Exclusive
  • Bayardrustin1
    The White House has announced it will posthumously award the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the trailblazing civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Obama will honor Rustin and 15 others, including President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and baseball great Ernie Banks, at the White House later this year. Rustin was a key adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and introduced him to Mahatma...
    Aug 12, 2013 | Story
  • Spies_of_mississippi1
    A new documentary reveals how the Mississippi state government spied on civil rights activists in the 1950s and 1960s. A little-known state agency called the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission hired spies to infiltrate the civil rights movement and squash attempts to desegregate the state and register African Americans to vote. Some of the spies were themselves African-American. The Commission generated more than 160,000 pages of reports, many...
    Feb 25, 2014 | Story
  • Freedomsummer5
    This week marks the 50th anniversary of the murders of three young civil rights workers who traveled to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, the historic campaign to register African-American voters. On June 21, 1964, James Chaney, Andy Goodman and Michael Schwerner went missing after they visited a church in Neshoba County, Mississippi, which the Ku Klux Klan had bombed because it was going to be used as a Freedom School. Forty-four days after the...
    Jun 26, 2014 | Story
  • Mlk
    As we continue our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech, we’re joined by the acclaimed chronicler of the civil rights movement, Taylor Branch. A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Branch is best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, the "America in the King Years" trilogy. His new...
    Aug 29, 2013 | Story
  • Mlk-march-on-washington2
    One week out from the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — and just days away from a major march this Saturday commemorating the event — we spend the hour looking at much of its forgotten history. More than a quarter-million people came to the nation’s capital on August 28, 1963, to protest discrimination, joblessness and economic inequality faced by African Americans. Many now consider the...
    Aug 21, 2013 | Story
  • Martinlutherkingjr
    What would Dr. Martin Luther King do? As debate continues over U.S. plans to launch airstrikes in Syria, we look at the final year of King’s life when he became a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy and the Vietnam War, calling his government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." We speak to public TV and radio broadcaster Tavis Smiley, author of the new book, "Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr....
    Sep 11, 2014 | Story
  • March_on_washington_072213
    Read an excerpt from the new book by our recent guest, historian William P. Jones, "The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights."
    Aug 20, 2013 | Web Exclusive
  • Lewis
    We spend the hour looking at the bloody struggle to obtain — and protect — voting rights in the U.S. with the civil rights icon, now 13-term Georgia congressmember, John Lewis. During the 1960s, Rep. Lewis was arrested more than 40 times and beaten almost to death as he served as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, marched side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., helped organize the Freedom Rides,...
    Jul 10, 2012 | Story
  • Mlkmountainspeech
    Today marks the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. At the time, his every move was being tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We speak with journalist Tim Weiner, author of "Enemies: A History of the FBI," about the fanatical zeal with which the agency pursued the civil rights leader and peace activist. FBI Director J. Edgar...
    Apr 04, 2012 | Story
  • We play a recording of Ossie Davis speaking at a memorial gathering for Martin Luther King in New York City on April 5th, 1968. Davis says, "As I stand before you, I don’t ask whether you are a white Martin, or whether you are a black martin, I ask first if you are a man and second, if you believe that men should stand or fall for freedom and third, if you believe that the time for that freedom is now." [includes rush...
    Feb 07, 2005 | Story