Two-hour network special explores how the civil rights movement used the power of images to tell their story and change the world
Wednesday, NBC News announced the world premiere of Hope & Fury: MLK, The Movement and the Media, a new documentary film that examines how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and leaders of the civil rights movement used the power of print and visual media, especially television, to awaken America to the shame and injustice of racial inequality. From executive producer and NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack, the two-hour network event will premiere on NBC on March 24 at 8:00 p.m. ET and on MSNBC on March 25 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King in Memphis, Hope & Fury: MLK, The Movement and the Media is a gripping account of American history told like never before by an all-star lineup of civil rights leaders, pioneering African-American reporters who chronicled the movement, journalists from across generations, as well as present-day activists who have adopted the tactics of their forbearers to shine a light on inequality in the modern era. The film offers a fresh look at the historic civil rights movement and combines first-hand personal recollections with rare, archival footage and photographs – some of which will be broadcast on network television for the first time.
From the murder of Emmett Till, Little Rock and Selma to modern day events in Charlottesville and Ferguson, the film navigates the struggles of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and draws a straight line to a new generation of activists including the Black Lives Matter movement. The documentary shows how protesters using social media today employ the same strategies as Dr. King and movement leaders when stark images of brutality moved a nation and made history. The film also highlights how today’s protestors communicate directly to mass audiences via digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter and tell their stories firsthand by broadcasting chilling, unfiltered footage in real time, as with the live-streamed death of Philando Castile. Hope & Fury: MLK, The Movement and the Media explores how much has – and hasn’t – changed since Dr. King mobilized the country.
“By the brilliant design of Dr. King and the movement’s leaders, each chapter of the civil rights struggle played out dramatically on the evening news,” said Andy Lack. “Powerful images beamed into living rooms, haunted Americans and eventually brought about historic change. Today’s movements have smartphones and live streams – but they still depend on the sheer force of video and pictures to tell a story and move people to action.”
The documentary film was produced and directed by award-winning producer and directors Rachel Dretzin and Phil Bertelsen. It is narrated by Lester Holt, anchor of NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and features interviews with activists including Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Rev. Jesse Jackson; Congressman John Lewis, former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Bob Moses, leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Diane Nash, founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Brittany Packnett, Vice President of National Community Alliances for Teach For America and member of the Ferguson Commission; Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network and host of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation; C.T. Vivian, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; and many more.
Additionally, the cross-generational group of history-making reporters who covered the civil rights movement and are reporting today’s crusade include: Joseph Boyce, the first black reporter for the Chicago Tribune; Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “America in the King Years”; Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent; David Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference”; Dorothy Gilliam, the first African-American female reporter at The Washington Post; Bryant Gumbel, host of HBO’s Real Sports and former co-host of NBC News’ TODAY; Nikole Hannah-Jones, writer for The New York Times Magazine; Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes; Hank Klibanoff, Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of “The Race Beat”; Bill Kovach, former Washington Bureau chief of The New York Times; Moses Newson, former reporter for The Baltimore Afro American; Bill Plante, former CBS News senior White House Correspondent; Dan Rather, former anchor of CBS Evening News; Joy Reid, host of MSNBC’s AM Joy; Hedrick Smith, former reporter and editor for The New York Times; Gay Talese, former reporter for The New York Times; Richard Valeriani, former NBC News correspondent; and Curtis Wilkie, author and former reporter for the Clarksdale Press Register; among others.
In anticipation of the premiere of Hope & Fury: MLK, The Movement and the Media, NBC News Digital presents NBCNews.com/MLK50, a digital hub where audiences can explore the momentous events of the civil rights movement, experience the captivating images outlined in the film, and learn more about the leading voices in the documentary. The site offers a trailer, streaming information and unique multimedia content, including additional archival footage, photo galleries, biographies and thought-provoking opinion and analysis from some of the documentary’s key figures, produced by NBC News THINK.
To honor Dr. King and the legacy of the civil rights movement, NBC News and MSNBC will host special screening events in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. Follow @NBCNews and @MSNBC and join the conversation by using the hashtag #MLK50.