The National Civil Rights Museum will host the premiere screening of the one-hour documentary, MLK: The Assassination Tapes, today at 6 p.m.
The documentary is being presented on behalf of the Smithsonian Channel, which will air the film officially Feb. 12.
The documentary presents a timeline of previously unseen radio and television footage leading up to the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and its aftermath.
“They get to see the stress on his face, the anxiety on his face, just a man who is really in such demand and is trying to be all things to all people,” said Gwen Harmon, director of the museum’s governmental and community affairs. “They get to see the stress of the community, the people who were repeatedly beaten and jailed…faces that we really haven’t seen before.”
The documentary will be shown in the museum’s main floor auditorium. There will also be an overflow room upstairs in the museum’s public meeting space. Both rooms will have giant screens showing the film.
Although the documentary centers on King and how he spent his final days in the city, Harmon said she hopes it provides people with a sense of the rich history that Memphis has in the civil rights movement.
“I hope they look at the way that the community bonded together in 68, not just black people, but a cross-section of black people, white people, different faith-based organizations, different churches, religious organizations,” Harmon said. “I hope [people] get inspired to get more involved today in their community, to make the same kind of commitment that these people made almost 50 years ago.”
King traveled to Memphis to support the sanitation strike in 1968, which involved black sanitary employees who refused to work until they were provided an increase in wages and better treatment.
King was shot as he stood on the second floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum, on April 4, 1968.