Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership of any photographic material used unless otherwise noted. This blog is intended for purposes of film criticism, commentary, and humor. If you wish to start this journey from the beginning, start with the prologue here.
Alright, so you’re familiar with Martin Luther King, Jr., right?
So, long story short, after slavery was abolished, as I pointed out in my review for Life, America managed to preserve forms of slavery decades afterward. Because after 600,000 dead soldiers, we somehow still couldn’t quite shake our addiction to forcing people to work for free. At the same time, black people’s rights were severely restricted under new laws upheld by an 1896 Supreme Court case that decided these laws were constitutional. Segregating public bathrooms, railcars, water fountains, movie theatres, restaurants, public swimming pools, schools, and even entire neighborhoods and towns by race was found to be legal under one simple premise of legal logic: Separate but equal.
The logic went that so long as facilities provided to each race were equal in quality and function, then those facilities could be legally segregated by race. It’s like separating the laundry by color so long as both got equal amounts of detergent and then not quite following through on that last part. At least, that’s how Randall Wallace would explain segregation.
God, I hate that movie.
Anyway, this period of legal racial segregation came to be known as Jim Crow.
A series of movements to end racial segregation occurred in the 20th century, the most famous of which happened in the 1950s and 1960s. It would be more accurate to say this movement was lead by many great activists: Medgar Evers, Bayard Rustin, Malcolm X, Diane Nash, James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy, Ella Baker, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall, etc. Hell, Marshall’s mentor Charles Hamilton Houston, arguably the one man most responsible for defeating de jure racial segregation, died in 1950 before the end of Jim Crow would become reality. He isn’t called “The Man Who Killed Jim Crow” for nothing.
If we’re being completely honest, history books and commemorations are like that brat in your kindergarten class that never wanted to share. It’s why over thirty Roman senators could knife Caesar in the back, but the only one everyone remembers is Brutus.
So, as a result, the Big Name of the civil rights movement was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This guy was the top dog, the head honcho, the big cheese. If the civil rights movement was a train, King was the conductor. If the civil rights movement was a fancy restaurant, King was the head chef in the big, poofy hat. If the civil rights movement was the Starship Enterprise, King was the bald guy in the captain’s seat shouting, “Make it so!”
So, in 1983, in honor of his contributions to civil and human rights, a federal holiday set on the third Monday of every January was created in his honor.
The holiday wasn’t without controversy. When the U.S. Senate debated the bill making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a holiday, Republican senators Jessie Helms and John Porter East of North Carolina submitted a 300-page document as part of a filibuster against the bill. The contents of that document alleged King was a filthy pinko Commie cocksucker. Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat from New York, promptly called the document “a packet of filth,” threw it on the Senate floor, and stomped on it.
Actually, speaking of Dr. King, since his birthday is coming up, we should watch something to educate you more about the man!
He’s… not a monarch. King is just his last name.
Anyway, let’s take a look at Our Friend, Martin… the time-traveling animated children’s special. Continue reading