Monday, March 29, 2010

3-29-10 Don't miss this program!


A new primetime Tavis Smiley Reports titled "MLK: A Call to Conscience," premieres on PBS, Wednesday, March 31, at 8 p.m. Smiley explores the importance of King's "controversial" antiwar stance and its parallels to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and inevitably to President Obama's stance on the Afghan war in particular.

The one-hour TV program will examine today's mostly forgotten or ignored antiwar views of Martin Luther King Jr., whose famed "Beyond Vietnam" speech in 1967 led to an abrupt loss of his popularity in the last year of his life. He was assassinated exactly one year later on April 4, 1968.

"MLK: A Call to Conscience" is based on dozens of hours of interviews with King's friends and with scholars who study his legacy, including:

• Dr. Vincent Harding, drafter of the "Beyond Vietnam" speech,
• Clarence Jones, King's legal advisor,
• Dr. Cornel West, a leading expert on race in America,
• Dr. Susannah Heschel, daughter of activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel,
• Dr. Clayborne Carson, director of the King Institute at Stanford University,
• Marian Wright Edelman, Organizer for the Poor People's Campaign with King,
• Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning King historian.

Regarding contemporary comparisons between Nobel Peace Prize recipients King and Obama, Smiley says: "During these interviews, I heard over and over again that the similarities between Martin Luther King Jr. and President Obama are limited. They are both strong Black leaders, and Obama's success is in part due to King's achievements. But one was a Christian preacher who advocated nonviolence and the other is a wartime president. The comparisons can only go so far."