The network announced on Wednesday that it will air a documentary in February showcasing news footage from April 4, 1968, the day King was murdered. Most of the footage has not been seen on television since it first aired.
The Smithsonian Channel notes that many historic moments are lost since local televisions stations frequently taped over old broadcasts or threw away film reels, but this rare footage captures events through King’s murder and its aftermath.
“This (documentary) plunges you into the immediacy of the period and allows you to absorb it the way people at the time absorbed it,” David Royle, executive producer of the Smithsonian Channel told the Associated Press. “There’s something that’s electric about that. It gets you to sit up and pay attention.”
The documentary includes coverage of King’s infamous “mountaintop” speech delivered the night before his assassination and interviews with Black Memphis residents at the time. Though coverage of such events and interviews was unusual at the time, some University of Memphis professors sensed civil rights history in the making. Their footage may now be looked at as priceless.
“What they were doing was absolutely visionary — and very unusual,” Royle said.
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(Photo: Barney Sellers/Commercial Appeal/Landov)