December 23, 2019
The historic David Susskind Archive: Interview With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is available on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group.
Susskind’s long and intimate interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. originally aired on June 9, 1963. Restored by the Paley Center, this broadcast has not been seen in full since its original airing. Among the subjects discussed were the current state of the American Civil Rights Movement and the then recent events in Birmingham, Ala.
On that Sunday night in June, WPIX-TV (NY) cleared this extraordinary interview between Susskind (host of “Open End”) and King. “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 ball, and the rest, as they say, became history.
Susskind and King discussed the gamut of racial issues of the day, particularly King’s disappointment at the speed at which the Kennedy Administration was moving regarding Civil Rights legislation. The interview so rattled 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.
The interview was recorded two months before the civil rights leader delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.