“David Susskind Archive: Interview With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
A Record of a Time and a Man
On June 9, 1963, David Susskind conducted an historical, long and intimate interview with Dr. Martin Luther King. Many of us who lived through that time will never forget it and I have often wondered why that interview was nor preserved for future generations It has not been seen since it was originally aired. The good news is that it has now been restored by The Paley Center.
Among the subjects discussed were the current state of the American Civil Rights Movement and the then recent events in Birmingham, Alabama. On that Sunday night in June, WPIX-TV (NY) cleared this extraordinary interview between Susskind ( who was then host of ‘Open End’) and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘Open End’ had recently been removed from the schedule of WNEW-TV because of the station’s management reluctance to air discussions regarding race relations in America. WPIX picked up the interview in which Susskind and Dr. King discussed all of racial issues of the day, particularly Dr. King’s disappointment at the speed at which the Kennedy Administration was moving regarding Civil Rights legislation. The interview so upset the White House that President Kennedy responded by going on national television to defend his Administration’s positions and to outline his push for what would later be the Civil and Voter’s rights Acts.
It is a pleasure to see this again and to realize how far (or now little) we have come since then. It is the perfect way to celebrate Martin Luther King Day and will undoubtedly open (or reopen) the eyes of many.