Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

MLK speech

This unique, six-part series places students of public speaking, American history, and political science front row, center at key speeches by the most eloquent orators of the 20th century. FDR, Huey Long, Generals MacArthur and Patton, and JFK share the podium with Barbara Jordan, Ronald Reagan, Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson, and others.

Rare archival footage combined with insightful commentary from host Jody Powell puts each speech into historical perspective.

Featured on History’s Best on PBS.

6-part series

Approx. 45-50 minutes each

Show descriptions:

Great Modern Political Speeches

This program features speeches by several major orators of the modern political era, including Representative Barbara Jordan's stunningly eloquent appeal for nonpartisan judgment at the Nixon impeachment hearings. Ronald Reagan shows why he was known as the 'great communicator' in his 1981 inaugural address. Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo's resounding keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic Convention, as well as an emotion-charged 1984 campaign speech by Jesse Jackson.

The Depression

This program features FDR's first inaugural address and "Grilled Millionaire" speech, as well as the flamboyant Huey Long's "Every Man is a King." Other speeches include a call for honesty in government by Populist Wisconsin Senator Robert Lafollette; two speeches praising, the criticizing, FDR's policies delivered by demagogue Father Charles Coughlin; and Coughlin support Gerald L. K. Smith's eulogy for Huey Long. Smith's keynote speech as third-party candidate opposing FDR's 1936 re-election is presented, along with a rousing call for working-class tax reductions by Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge.

World War II

This program features FDR's declaration of war on Japan, and General Douglas MacArthur's "old soldiers never die" retirement speech before congress.

Kennedy and King Promises and Dreams

This program contains speeches by two of the 20th century's greatest orators: John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Included are Kennedy's inaugural address, the American university speech calling for an end to nuclear proliferation, and the politically-charged "Ich Bin ein Berliner" address delivered at the Berlin Wall. King's moving "I Have A Dream" speech to civil rights marchers in Washington and parts of his prophetic "When a Man Has Already Died" speech.

The Turbulent Sixities

This program begins with a fiery speech by Malcolm X that reminds us of the polarization of American political life in the 1960s. Nelson Rockefeller's condemnation of 1968 Republican candidate Barry Goldwater as a political extremist; Goldwater's rebuttal of the charges; and Ronald Reagan's stump speech in support of Goldwater follow. Robert Kennedy's moving eulogy for Martin Luther King Jr., concludes the program.

The Cold War

In this program, Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon argue the merits of democracy and communism in the impromptu Kitchen Debate, complete with on-screen translations. Also included are Nixon's famous Checkers speech; a 1960 campaign address to Wisconsin farmers by Senator Hubert Humphrey; and the verbal showdown between Senator Joseph McCarthy and attorney Joseph Welch at the Army-McCarthy hearings tat helped end McCarthy's pollical career.