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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. with Music and a Documentary of His Final Year

Two Martin Luther King Jr. specials will be aired on MLK Day, January 21st, at 11 a.m. and 12 noon on WKMS.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and the most visible spokesperson of the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 until his death in 1968. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrated annually on the third Monday of January, WKMS will be featuring two specials celebrating his life and legacy.

On Monday, January 21st, "A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood," will be aired at 11 a.m. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up listening to and singing church songs, and saw gospel and folk music as natural tools to further the civil rights movement. In this hour-long special from WQXR and WNYC, host Terrance McKnight interweaves musical examples with Dr. King's own speeches and sermons to illustrate the powerful place that music held in his work -- and examines how the musical community responded to and participated in Dr. King's cause. 

A full list of works to be featured on "A Beautiful Symphony" can be found here.

Immediately following "A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood" at 12 noon, WKMS will feature King's Last March, a documentary following the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. 

On April 4th, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a landmark speech from the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York. He called for an end to the Vietnam War. Exactly one year later, King was assassinated in Memphis. He was 39 years old. King's speech in New York set the tone for the last year of his life. Inside the church, he was hailed for his brave, outspoken stance against the war. Outside the church, he was roundly condemned -- by the mainstream press, by other civil rights activists, and, most decidedly, by President Lyndon Johnson. 

This documentary traces the final year of King's life. It was one of the most challenging and controversial chapters of the civil rights leader's career, yet it has not been the focus of significant public attention. For many, the image of King is of a social and political leader at the height of his powers -- especially the period up through 1965. But that's not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life. 

This program illuminates the profound personal, psychological, and philosophical challenges King faced in his last year. In this time, King tried to gain support for his Poor People's Campaign, fended off fierce critics inside and outside the civil rights movement, and endured an increasing sense of despair and isolation. King's Last March offers listeners a complex view of a man trying to push his philosophy of non-violence to a conclusion many people found more threatening than the dream he described on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial five years before his death. 

Tracy started working for WKMS in 1994 while attending Murray State University. After receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from MSU he was hired as Operations/Web/Sports Director in 2000. Tracy hosted All Things Considered from 2004-2012 and has served as host/producer of several music shows including Cafe Jazz, and Jazz Horizons. In 2001, Tracy revived Beyond The Edge, a legacy alternative music program that had been on hiatus for several years. Tracy was named Program Director in 2011 and created the midday music and conversation program Sounds Good in 2012 which he hosts Monday-Thursday. Tracy lives in Murray with his wife, son and daughter.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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