Our Friend, Martin

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Our Friend, Martin
Our Friend, Martin.jpg
VHS cover
Directed byRob Smiley
Vincenzo Trippetti
Produced byAndy Boron
Andy Heyward
Phillip Jones
Robby London
Michael Maliani
Judith Reilly
Janice Sonski
Written byDawn Comer (story)
Chris Simmons (story)
Sib Ventress
Deborah Pratt
Distributed byCBS/Fox Video
Release date
  • January 12, 1999 (1999-01-12)
Running time
61 minutes
CountryUnited States

Our Friend, Martin is a 1999 direct-to-video animated children's educational film about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. It was produced by DiC Entertainment and distributed by CBS/Fox Video. Two friends 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.


Miles (Robert Ri'chard) is a wisecracking African American boy who is an avid fan of sports, particularly baseball icon Hank Aaron, but is failing at school. His teacher Mrs. Clark (Susan Sarandon) threatens Miles that she will make him repeat 6th grade if his grades do not improve. He and his class, including his friends, two Caucasian boys Randy (Lucas Black) and former bully Kyle (Zachary Leigh) and a Latino girl Maria (Jessica Garcia), visit a museum, dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr.. Randy and Miles explore Martin's bedroom, and are caught by the museum's curator Mrs. Peck (Whoopi Goldberg), who winds up an old watch. The boys hold Martin's baseball glove and the two are transported back to 1941 and encounter a 12-year-old Martin (Theodore Borders) playing with his friends, Sam and Skip Dale (Adam Wylie), until their mother (Ashley Judd) arrives and reprimands her sons for integrating with the "coloreds". Martin explains to Miles and Randy that Mrs. Dale's hatred of black people stems from the fact she regards them as "different", but violence would only worsen things.

The boys then travel 3 years in time and meet a teenage Martin (Jaleel White) on a segregated train. He explains to them that blacks and whites are unable to integrate and must use separate bathrooms, restaurants, and waiting rooms. They later have dinner with Martin's family and while he goes to do shut in rounds with his father (James Earl Jones), the boys travel forward 11 years and meet Martin (LeVar Burton), who by now is in his 20s and works as a minister at the church. He is holding a meeting about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, set off after Rosa Parks, a black seamstress refused to give up her seat on a bus and was put in prison for it. As a result, no black adults or children will ride the buses. Just then, Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), Martin's friend, alerts him his house has been bombed. He races home, where his wife Coretta Scott King and newborn daughter Yolanda have escaped unharmed.

Turner announces that in retaliation, they will attack the perpetrators with bricks, guns, Molotov cocktails and knives, 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 then travel to the Birmingham riot of 1963 and witness firemen and police officers squirt black protesters with hoses and release German Shepherds on them. The boys are later transported back to the museum and join their class back at school. The following day, Miles and Randy tell Miss Clark about the events prior to Martin's work and later the class watch a VHS tape of Martin's work. After the class leaves, Maria and Kyle decide to investigate for themselves 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 the two boys in and catch them in Martin's bedroom. The four children are then transported to the March on Washington Movement and meets Martin who is in his 30s (Dexter Scott King) along with a young white woman, whom they realize is a younger version of Mrs. Clark. When they return, Miles discovers that Martin was murdered. The children travel back to 1941 and bring the 12-year-old Martin back to the present. When they return, only Miles and Martin return together and the present is different. They discover that the museum is now just a burned down house. They also find out Randy and Kyle are also racists and no longer friends with Miles or know him. His middle school is segregated and named after Robert E. Lee, Miss Clark is treated poorly by the principal and Maria works as a maid and can't speak English. He and his mother (Angela Bassett) live in poverty as she now works as a cleaning lady. The next day Miles cannot understand what is going on but Martin figures out because he left his own time, it created an alternate timeline where his civil rights work never happened. Miles realizes the error of his ways and must sacrifice his plans to rescue Martin. Miles bids a tearful farewell, but realizes he still has Martin's watch and begs for him to come out of his house. Martin returns to his time, where he is shot and killed at his hotel. This results in the present reverting to normal and Miles is reunited with Randy, Maria, and Kyle. Mrs. Peck knows about Miles time traveling and tells him that while they cannot change the past as long as they remember Martin and what he stood for he will always be with them. He 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. At the end of the film, Mrs. Peck closes the door to Martin's bedroom as the credits roll.



Motown Records released a soundtrack from this film that featured a cover of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Debelah Morgan, which combined the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell and Diana Ross versions.

Track list:

  1. "Imagine" - Sheryl Crow & Salt-N-Pepa
  2. "Feelin' It - Ray Ray
  3. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Debelah Morgan
  4. "Finding My Way" - 702
  5. "When They Were Kings" - Diana Ross & Brian McKnight
  6. "I'll Be There" - The Jackson 5
  7. "What's Going On" - Marvin Gaye
  8. "4 You" - Montell Jordan feat. Fulfillment Choir and Schappell Crawford
  9. "Place in the World" - Shanice
  10. "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand) - Diana Ross
  11. "Happy Birthday - Stevie Wonder
  12. "As Long as I Can Dream" - Debelah Morgan

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