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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Interview with Dr. Martin Luther Jr.'
(David Susskind, Martin Luther King, Jr., et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / MVD Visual)

Overview: David Susskind's historical, long and intimate interview with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. originally aired on June 9th, 1963.

Now, restored by The Paley Center, this broadcast has not been seen in full since its original airing.

DVD Verdict: Recorded two months before the civil rights leader delivered his now infamous 'I Have a Dream' speech,I have to say that I personally had never seen this interview before and having now watched it back-to-back twice, can honestly say that it is as mesmerizing today as I'm sure it was back then.

Among the subjects discussed are the current state of the American Civil Rights Movement and the then recent events in Birmingham, Alabama.

On that Sunday night in June, WPIX-TV (NY) cleared this extraordinary interview between Susskind (host of 'Open End') and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

'Open End' had recently been removed from the schedule of WNEW-TV because of the station's management reluctance to air discussions regarding race relations in America.

WPIX picked up the ball, and the rest, as they say, became history.

Susskind and Dr. King discuss the gamut of racial issues of the day, particularly Dr. King's disappointment at the speed at which the Kennedy Administration was moving regarding Civil Rights legislation.

On the obligations and responsibilities that would come after integration, Susskind asks: "Now, what problems, responsibilities, and obligations would you say the Negro would have in this relationship in this third phase?", to which Martin Luther King Jr responds, "Well, I would think this would be the phase, or the responsibilities of the Negro in this phase would be in the area what Mahatma Gandhi used to refer to as "constructive work," his constructive program, which is a program whereby the individuals work desperately to improve their own conditions and their own standards."

"I think in this phase, after the Negro emerges in and from the desegregated society, then a great deal of time must be spent in improving standards which lag behind to a large extent because of segregation, discrimination, and the legacy of slavery."

"But it seems to me that the Negro will have to engage in a sort of operation bootstraps in order to lift these standards. And I think by raising the, these lagging standards, it will make it much more, well, I, I would say much less difficult for him to move on into the integrated society."

And when asked about looking to Africa and to America in these times, King Jr. responds, "I think one can live in American society with a certain cultural heritage, whether it's an African heritage or other, European, what, what have you, and still absorb a great deal of this culture. There is always cultural assimilation."

"This is not an unusual thing; it's a very natural thing. And I think that we've got to come to see this. The Negro is an American. We, we, we know nothing about Africa, although our roots are there in terms of our forbearers."

"But I mean as far as the average Negro today, he knows nothing about Africa. And I think he's got to face the fact that he is an American, his culture is basically American, and one becomes adjusted to this when he realizes what, what he is."

"He's got to know what he is. Our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America."

Indeed, the interview so rattled the White House that President Kennedy responded by going on national television to defend his Administration's positions and to outline his push for what would later be the Civil and Voter's rights Acts.

Restored by The Paley Center, and running at a healthy 102 minutes, this broadcast has not been seen in full since its original airing in 1963. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.