"King in the Wilderness," a 2018 documentary film and a Sundance Film Festival star, looks at the last 18 months in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a champion of the Civil Rights Movement. Using interviews with the people in Dr. King’s inner circle (Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Andrew Young and others) and material from historical archives, the film covers the period between passage of the Voting Rights Act and Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. The film depicts a historic tragedy that is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

King in the Wilderness will be shown at 3 p.m. Sunday, January 20, at the York Public Library. It is a tribute to Dr. King and Black History Month and part of the book and film series “Exploring the Complexity of Racism,” a joint project of York Public Library and York Diversity Forum.

The final period in Dr. King’s life was marked by opposition and despair. He was criticized by the Black Power movement, which had become impatient with his nonviolent approach; threatened by the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover; and faced with President Lyndon Johnson’s anger over his opposition to the Vietnam War. Despite these challenges and threats from various opposition groups, constant pressures and the weight of his task, Dr. King pressed forward in his struggle for civil rights. “He was prepared to die, but he was also determined that his death and his life would have meaning.” (Andrew Young).

This outstanding film premiered so recently that it is not yet generally available. It was directed by Peter Kunhardt and is complemented by music composed by York native Saul Simon MacWilliams, who was able to obtain permission to show it in York. When asked about his role as composer, MacWilliams, who now lives in Los Angeles, said “It was an honor to work on a project that promoted the cause and the story of the Civil Rights Movement.”

This event and the book and film series are made possible by the Maine Humanities Council, the York Diversity Forum, United Methodist Church of York-Ogunquit, and the York Public Library. Everyone is welcome, and like all library and Diversity Forum events, admission is free. The library is at 15 Long Sands Road in York and is fully accessible. For more information about the film or the series, please call 363-2818.