Our Friend, Martin
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|Our Friend, Martin|
|Directed by||Rob Smiley|
|Produced by||Andy Boron|
|Written by||Dawn Comer|
|Story by||Dawn Comer|
Jessica Marie Garcia
Samuel L. Jackson
James Earl Jones
|Music by||Eric Allaman|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox Home Entertainment|
Our Friend, Martin is an 1999 American direct-to-video animated children's educational film about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. It was produced by DIC Entertainment, L.P. and distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment under the CBS/Fox Video label. The film follows two friends in middle school who travel through time, meeting Dr. King at several points during his life. It featured an all-star voice cast and was nominated for an Emmy award in 1999 for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming More Than One Hour). It was also the final release under the CBS/Fox Video name before it was retired. It was released three days before Martin Luther King Jr.'s 70th birthday.
Miles Woodman, a black teenager who is a sports fan of baseball icon Hank Aaron, is failing at school. His teacher Mrs. Clark threatens to have him repeat 6th grade if his grades do not improve. Miles and his class visit a museum dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. He and his white best friend Randy explore Martin's bedroom but are caught by the museum's curator Mrs. Peck, who winds up an old watch. The boys hold Martin's baseball glove and are transported back to 1941, encountering a 12-year-old Martin playing with his two white friends until their mother arrives and reprimands her sons for integrating with "coloured". Martin explains to Miles and Randy that her hatred of black people is that she regards them as "different", but violence would only worsen things.
The boys travel 3 years forward and meet a teenage Martin on a segregated train, who explains that blacks and whites are unable to integrate and must be kept separate at all times. They later have dinner with Martin's family. While he goes to do shut in rounds with his father, the boys travel 11 years forward and meet Martin in his 20s working as a minister at a church. He is holding a meeting about the Montgomery bus boycott set off after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and was imprisoned for it; now, black people are refusing to ride buses. Martin is alerted that his house has been bombed; he races home where his wife and newborn daughter have escaped unharmed.
His friend Turner announces they'll attack the perpetrators with weapons in retaliation, but Martin stops him, reminding the crowd of Gandhi peacefully standing his ground to exile the British colonies from India and of Jesus teaching love for his enemies. Miles and Randy travel to the Birmingham riot of 1963, witnessing firemen and police officers squirting black protesters with hoses and releasing German Shepherds on them. The boys are transported back to the museum and rejoin their class at school the next day. Miles and Randy tell Miss Clark about the events prior to Martin's work. The class watches a VHS tape of Martin's work.
After school, the boys' classmates, Latina girl Maria and another Caucasian boy Kyle, decide to investigate for themselves of how Miles and Randy got the information. When the boys arrive at the museum, Mrs. Peck lets them stay but warns them that when one messes with the past, this can affect the present. Maria and Kyle follow and catch them in Martin's bedroom. The four are transported to the March on Washington Movement and meet Martin in his 30s along with a young Mrs. Clark. When they return, they discover Martin was assassinated. They travel back to 1941 and bring 12-year-old Martin to the present.
However, only Miles and Martin return together and the present is different. The museum is burnt down; Randy and Kyle are racists and no longer friends with Miles or know him; their middle school is segregated and named after Robert E. Lee; the principal is also racist and mistreats Mrs. Clark; Maria works as a maid and can't speak English; Miles and his mother live in poverty as she also works as a maid.
The next day, Martin summarizes because he left his own time, it created an alternate timeline where his civil rights work never happened. Miles and Martin bid one another a farewell, and as Martin leaves, he gives Miles his watch. Martin returns to his time, where he is shot dead at his hotel and the timeline returns to normal. Miles reunites with Randy, Maria and Kyle. Mrs. Peck knows about his time traveling and tells him that while they cannot change the past, they can change the future for the better. Miles receives an A on his history test, allowing him to progress to 7th grade. He and his friends then vow to continue Martin's work. Mrs. Peck closes the door to Martin's bedroom.
- Robert Ri'chard - Miles Woodman, an avid baseball fan who tries to not fail in his class.
- Lucas Black - Randy Smith, Miles' best friend. In the alternate universe, he is a racist and is best friends with Kyle.
- Dexter King - Martin Luther King, Jr. at age 34. This was when he did his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963, with archive sound footage being used on his speech.
- LeVar Burton - Martin Luther King, Jr. at age 26. This was when he was a Church Minister during that time, and experienced his house burning down.
- Jaleel White - Martin Luther King, Jr. at age 15. This was when he was on a train, explaining the whole boycott situation to Kyle and Randy.
- Theodore Borders - Martin Luther King, Jr. at age 12.
- Jessica Garcia - Maria Ramirez, Miles' Hispanic friend. In the alternate universe, she is a maid and only can understand Hispanic.
- Zachary Leigh - Kyle Langon, Miles' caucasian bully, but later friend. In the alternate timeline, he is best friends with Randy and is turned back into a bully, but a racist one.
- Ed Asner - Mr. Harris, the school principal of Martin Luther King Elementary School.
- Angela Bassett - Mrs. Woodman, Miles' mother
- Danny Glover - Train Conductor
- Whoopi Goldberg - Mrs. Peck, the owner of the museum
- Samuel L. Jackson - Turner
- James Earl Jones - Daddy King, Martin Luther King Jr's father
- Ashley Judd - Mrs. Dale
- Richard Kind - Mr. Willis, Miles' school bus driver who takes him to school. In the alternate universe, he is a racist and only allows white passengers to ride his bus since blacks were only allowed to walk.
- Yolanda King - Christine King, Martin Luther King Jr's sister.
- Susan Sarandon - Mrs. Joyce Clark, Miles' teacher
- John Travolta - Mr. Langon, Kyle's father
- Adam Wylie - Sam Dale/Skip Dale
- Oprah Winfrey - Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr's wife
- Frank Welker - Bull Connor/Chihuahua/German Shepherds
- Nicole Palacio - Parker Marie
- Jess Harnell - Reporter #1/Demonstrator #1
- Joe Lala - Reporter #2/Demonstrator #2
- John Wesley - Man/Demonstrator #3
- Elizabeth Primm - Old Woman/Demonstrator #4
- Jodi Carlisle - Additional Voices
Motown Records released a soundtrack album for the film, featuring various artists including Diana King, Sheryl Crow, The Jackson 5, Salt 'N Pepa, Montell Jordan, 702, and Stevie Wonder. The soundtrack also features a cover of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Debelah Morgan, which combined the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross versions.
- "Imagine" - Salt 'N Pepa featuring Sheryl Crow
- "Feelin' It" - Antuan & Ray Ray (of the Biv 10 Pee Wees) featuring P-Nutt and Shortee Red
- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - Debelah Morgan
- "Finding My Way" - 702
- "When They Were Kings" - Brian McKnight and Diana King
- "I'll Be There" - The Jackson 5
- "What's Going On" - Marvin Gaye
- "4 You" - Montell Jordan featuring Schappell Crawford and Fulfillment Choir
- "Place in the World" - Shanice
- "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" - Diana Ross
- "Happy Birthday" - Stevie Wonder
- "As Long as I Can Dream" - Debelah Morgan
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