Martin Luther King Jr. gave many important speeches during his life, but none were more important than the one at Riverside Church in New York almost 51 years ago. On April 4, 1967, MLK powerfully voiced his opposition against the Vietnam War in Morningside Heights. A new documentary called “King In The Wilderness” examines this speech and the final three years of King’s life. U.S. Representative John Lewis called King’s speech at Riverside Church the best one he ever gave. Lewis along with other friends and civil rights activists Jesse Jackson, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez are all featured in the film as well. The film features intimate accounts of the days before MLK’s death, his internal struggle with the Vietnam War and his relationship with President Lyndon B. Johnson.
There are many revealing new details in this documentary, including the fact that MLK was offered a full time position as a pastor at Riverside Church prior to assassination in 1968. The film’s director Peter Kunhardt and producer Trey Ellis stopped by the CBS Local Studios to discuss King’s memorable Riverside Church speech, his connection to New York City and what it was like to show the documentary in the church all these years later.