To Heal A Sick Nation: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and IDEAS

(Rocehster, NY) – To Heal A Sick Nation: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and IDEAS, airing Monday, January 19, 2015 at 1 p.m. and again at 10 p.m. on AM 1370, tells the untold story about Dr. Martin Luther King and his appearance on the most prestigious lecture series in Canada shortly before his assassination on April 4th, 1968.

Throughout 1967, Dr. King faced enormous criticism from the white establishment over his public denouncement of the Vietnam War, as well as from black militants over his philosophy of non-violence. He was also increasingly despondent over the pace of social change, and threats against his life were increasing.

It was in this context that Dr. King delivered the 1967 Massey Lectures for CBC Radio, as guest speaker for the annual five part series which aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship documentary program IDEAS.

Janet Somerville was the producer of that series. She was 27 years old and faced the onerous task of telling Dr. King that his first two lectures weren't "radical" enough. After some discussion, the two decided he would record his final lecture as a sermon to his home congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, just before Christmas 1967.

In that sermon, Dr. King talks about how his famous dream had become a nightmare. Yet he clung steadfastly to his dream, despite the escalating pressures on him. A few weeks later, he phoned Janet Somerville and offer her a job as his speech writer. She was enormously flattered, but conflicted about taking up the offer and asked to defer her decision to June 1968. She never had the chance. Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968.

The subject of Dr. King's Massey Lectures reflected his mature thought at its best, connecting poverty, militarism and racism on a global scale. For Janet Somerville, who is a committed Catholic with a degree in theology, Dr. King was a prophet whose message is as believable today as it was in 1967.

In this documentary you'll hear commentary from other people  connected to Dr. King at the time: Harry Belafonte, J. Herman Blake (who "converted" to King's non-violent philosophy after initially scorning it), friend and fellow activist Dorothy Cotton, and Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer for Dr. King, David Garrow. There's also insight from the staff of the original IDEAS radio production team in 1967.

 


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