Note: This post originally appeared on this blog on January 16, 2012 and is reprinted here today in honor of MLK.
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a U.S. federal holiday that marks the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed the third Monday of each January and was first observed in 1986.
Here is an eight-minute video created by Lisa Nedberg that honors Rev. King and tells his life story. The video is composed of mostly black-and-white still images with embedded descriptive sentences. The first five-plus minutes are set to the Forrest Gump theme music – composed by Alan Silvestri. It’s worth watching and remembering what Rev. King accomplished in his too-short life.
There was a scene filmed for the movie Forrest Gump in which Forrest met Rev. King. It ended up on the cutting room floor and didn’t make final movie version.
Here is a description of that scene:
Forrest meets Rev. King and his supporters while vicious police dogs are about to attack. Forrest first has a flashback to his childhood, remembering how he used to play with dogs. He then enters the scene thinking it’s just a parade … not understanding the historical significance of the moment.
German Shepherd dogs are unleashed by the police. The dogs charge toward King and his supporters. Forrest enters just in time to distract the dogs with a stick. He diverts the dogs and gets them to play fetch. The dogs are rendered harmless. Forrest throws the stick and the dogs run away. Forrest then walks up to the King group and says, “Sorry to interrupt your parade. They just dogs and they don’t know any better.”
The dialogue is similar to when Forrest apologized to the Black militants for “having a fight in the middle of your Black Panther party.”
The scene can be seen on the Forrest Gump Special Collector’s Edition DVD.
Since Forrest Gump grew up in Alabama, I understand why the original screenplay included the scene. The fictitious Greenbow, Alabama, would have been very close to Birmingham. But Director Robert Zemeckis decided to leave the scene out of the final version.
I’m glad that the scene of Forrest playing fetch with the dogs was not part of the final movie version. Martin Luther King and our history of racial injustice need not be cheapened through a clever cinematic trick.
Rev. King stood up to the injustice of racism. He made the United States and the world a much better place by shining a spotlight on the injustice of racial inequality. And he gave his life for the cause.
When he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, I was only nine years old. I remember hearing of his assassination. I remember my mother being upset by the news. I didn’t understand the issue. Today it’s incomprehensible to me that forty-five years ago we had segregated buses and water fountains.
Rev. King is an example how the will of one man can change the world.
I encourage you to remember Martin Luther King, Jr., by watching the video. More importantly, remember what he stood for and accomplished. He was a great American. He was a great man.