Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/778/17341

From The Socialist newspaper, 4 September 2013

TV review - MLK: The Assassination Tapes

Dave Carr
MLK: The Assassination Tapes - Film about Martin Luther King's assassination shown on BBC Four, photo BBC4 publicity screen shot

MLK: The Assassination Tapes - Film about Martin Luther King's assassination shown on BBC Four, photo BBC4 publicity screen shot   (Click to enlarge)

There's been no shortage of material in the mass media commemorating US black civil rights leader Martin Luther King's (MLK) landmark 1963 'I have a dream' speech in Washington. Few of these articles touch on the more dramatic events surrounding MLK's assassination in Memphis in April 1968, a period of heightened class struggle and social upheaval in racially divided America.

BBC4's MLK: The Assassination Tapes illuminates these themes using rare archive newsreel footage and radio reports. The documentary, in a simple chronological narrative-less style, is a powerful historical account of the period.

The backdrop was the bloody Vietnam War and the hated draft, the dying days of the failed Johnson presidency, and the tinderbox social conditions in US cities especially affecting the oppressed black population.

MLK had gone to Memphis heading the moderate, reformist black civil rights movement to give political and financial support to 1,000, mostly black, striking refuse workers who demanded recognition of their AFSCME union branch and better pay from the municipal authority. Baton-wielding cops sent by the city's reactionary mayor brutally attacked a march by strikers and their supporters

A further support demonstration, led by MLK's non-violent Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, began peacefully but more radicalised groups of black youth clashed with police.

The mayor then drafted in over 4,000 armed national guardsmen, who acted like an occupying army. But this only tightened the lid further on the pressure cooker situation developing in the city's black community.

In a powerful, prophetic last speech MLK, anticipated his own demise but refused to retreat from his campaign for racial equality and an end to poverty.

His gunning down at the Lorraine motel by white supremacist James Earl Ray was an incendiary act that provoked widespread rioting and an uprising of black people in cities across the USA.

The assassination terrified the Democrat leadership who feared that radical black forces would fill the political vacuum.

13,000 troops surrounded the White House as president Johnson dithered, bereft of political solutions. The civil rights leaders and the trade union leaders, while urging political reform, lacked a clear strategy and programme to bring about lasting and fundamental change. Only a mass revolutionary socialist party overthrowing capitalism could have achieved that.

However Johnson, under pressure from the uprising and widespread social discontent, signed into law anti-racist and positive discrimination legislation that year. In Memphis, the mayor conceded union recognition and better pay to end the sanitation workers' strike.

When the rioting subsided, the Democrats could regain political control of the civil rights struggle and shunt it into a safe siding. But the documentary graphically shows how the workers' class struggle merged with the struggle for black liberation.

MLK, despite the limitations of his reformism, recognised through his anti-poverty campaign, the importance of championing class issues to achieve racial equality.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 4 September 2013:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Syria: Cameron defeated; Now defeat Tory cuts!

United strike action against the Con-Dems

Don't fall for the shares-for-rights scam

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

When the world economic crisis makes landfall in S Asia


Socialist history

1993: BNP racists forced off Brick Lane


Socialist Party reviews

Police spies and the workers' movement

TV review - MLK: The Assassination Tapes


Socialist Party workplace news

Blacklist defeat - Frank Morris reinstated on Crossrail

Hovis bakers on 7-day strike against massive pay cuts and casualisation

Carers at Future Directions continue their fight

Coventry Unison protest

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Council leader announces 'no bedroom tax evictions this year'

Build partnership in action against austerity

Miliband expected to promise repeal of bedroom tax

NHS: action to improve care

Lift the ban on campaign stalls in Newham, east London

Burston strike school celebrated

London protest against attack on Syria

Bristol TUSC - we're fighting the cuts

Socialism 2013

Help fund the anti-austerity fightback!


 

Home   |   The Socialist 4 September 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Civil rights:

triangleThe life and legacy of Martin Luther King

triangleTV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

triangleInternational Women's Day: taking action against capitalist oppression

triangleHow black women fought racism and sexism at Nasa

triangleThe radical life of Paul Robeson

Black:

triangleEnoch Powell's racist 'Rivers of Blood' rant 50 years on

triangleDefend socialist councillor Kshama Sawant against lawsuits

triangleStormzy is right to slam Tories for Grenfell

triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: Organising for socialist change

US:

triangleTo produce the Socialist we need a building - help us keep ours!

triangleUSA: Huge 'march for our lives' protests

triangleStrike action forces bosses to retreat but keep the pressure on

USA:

triangleSouth-East London Socialist Party: USA - Resisting Trump and fighting for socialism

triangleMobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

Capitalism:

triangleLewisham & Southwark Socialist Party: Reform or Revolution?

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

18/4/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

18/4/18

Film

Vital depiction of fight for Aids prevention and treatment

11/4/18

The Socialist

The Socialist inbox

11/4/18

Sexism

Moving look at school students' many perspectives on sexism

11/4/18

Trotsky

Striking analysis in heat of 1917 will deepen any reader's understanding

4/4/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

4/4/18

Obituary

Obituary: Lorraine Dardis (1965-2018)

21/3/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

21/3/18

Obituary

Revolutionary physicist and champion of social causes

14/3/18

Falklands

Gripping spy thriller exposes hypocrisy of Falklands/Malvinas war

14/3/18

The Socialist

International Women's Day

7/3/18

Sexual harassment

Fighting sexual harassment in entertainment

7/3/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

7/3/18

Women

The Socialist inbox: International Women's Day

28/2/18

Kingston

Socialist anti-war exhibition opens in Kingston

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999