10 Must-See Movies With Messages MLK Would Love (PHOTOS)

Jacqueline Burt Cote | Jan 14, 2016 Movies

mississippi burningIt's no surprise that legendary Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has inspired countless filmmakers and actors the world over in the decades since his incredibly admirable life (and tragic death). Some of Hollywood's finest films directly celebrate the icon's work, while others explore the history of racism and the idea of achieving equal rights -- which became his ultimate mission.

The themes and stories explored in these movies will make you thankful for the progress Martin Luther King Jr. made -- and will remind you how important it is for each and every one of us to continue his fight for equality.


Image Via Christophe d'Yvoire/Sygma/Corbis 

  • The Butler


    Image Via Anne Marie Fox/ The Weinstein Company

    Experience the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of a White House butler, brilliantly played by Forest Whitaker, who serves eight presidents during the span of his career.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird


    Image via Corbis

    Recent controversy over the potentially prejudiced nature of character Atticus Finch aside, this film adaptation of Harper Lee's classic novel will forever remain a timeless tale of triumph over racism.

  • Selma


    Image via Amazon

    An undeniably stirring account of Martin Luther King Jr.'s history-making 1965 march for equal voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, Selma was nominated for Best Picture in 2015.

    More from The Stir: 10 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes That Inspire Us to Do Better as a Nation

  • Do the Right Thing


    Image Via CinemaPhoto/Corbis

    Spike Lee's story of a hot summer day when racial tensions are running high in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn shows how much changed between the days of Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1980s -- and how much didn't.

  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?


    Image Via Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

    The story of a white woman taking her African-American fiancé (Sidney Poitier) home to meet her parents might not sound particularly progressive now, but in 1967 it was a huge step forward.

  • Gandhi


    Image Via Kapoor Baldev/Sygma/Corbis

    Honor one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s most profound influences with Gandhi (1982). Directed by Richard Attenborough, the film won eight Oscars (including Best Picture) for good reason!

    More from The Stir: 10 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes to Read Before You Celebrate

  • Malcolm X


    Image via Amazon

    Celebrate all that Martin Luther King Jr. fought for with the story of his fellow Civil Rights leader, featuring Denzel Washington in what many consider to be the best performance of his career.

  • Freedom on My Mind


    Image via Vimeo

    An in-depth look at the long and arduous process to get African-American voters registered in 1960s Mississippi, Freedom on My Mind won Best Documentary at Sundance in 1994.

  • Mississippi Burning


    Image Via Christophe d'Yvoire/Sygma/Corbis

    Another Oscar winner, this 1988 movie starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe is loosely based on the true story of an FBI investigation into the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers.

    More from The Stir: 6 Great Martin Luther King Jr. Books to Read to Your Kid 

  • A Raisin in the Sun


    Image Via Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

    This 1961 adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's play deals with racism in the North and stars Sidney Poitier in a stunning performance.

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