Contemporary MLK: 1960s Civil Rights Documentaries from IU Collections

Please join the IU Libraries and the Office of the Bicentennial in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Thursday, January 19 from 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm for a screening of several civil rights documentaries. These rare documentaries were made during and just after Dr. King’s life, offering a historical lens into how he was viewed and understood by a contemporary audience. The screenings will take place in the new screening room in the Moving Image Collections and Archives on the ground floor of the Herman B Wells Library.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Service in the IU Auditorium on April 5, 1968. Indiana University Archives.

Many of the films for the screening come from the educational film collection of the IU Libraries Moving Image Archive. They were produced for the purpose of teaching about civil rights, discrimination, and the activism of Dr. King. Though the specifics of the historical and political moment have changed between when they were made and the current day, the questions the films raise remain relevant. How do the ideals of America match up with the day-to-day reality of racial and economic inequality? What is the proper way to effect social change? What lessons can we take from Dr. King’s life?

A digital exhibit highlighting materials related to Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights from IU collections will also be on display outside of the Moving Image Archive’s screening room all day. Images were generously provided by the Archives of African American Music and Culture, Black Film Center/Archive, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University Archives, Jerome Hall Law LibraryLilly Library, and Mathers Museum of World Cultures. This exhibit gives a glimpse into the historical documents, photographs, literature, and art related to civil rights and Martin Luther King, Jr. from IU repositories across campus, demonstrating the rich research value and diversity of IU’s collections.

King, Martin Luther. Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Harper & Row, [1964]. Courtesy, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
King, Martin Luther. Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Harper & Row, [1964]. Courtesy, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
The screening lasts from 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm. It is intended as a drop-in event, so please come and see as many of the films as your schedule allows. From 4:00 pm to 4:45 pm, there will be a brief lecture by Professor Alex Lichtenstein from the IU Department of History. A break with complimentary snacks will follow.

Location: Moving Image Collections and Archive (Ground Floor of the Wells Library, Room 048)

By Andy Uhrich and Kristin Leaman