In the United States, we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by celebrating his birthday as a national holiday. While Dr. King was born on January 15th, today is the day when most Americans are free from the daily grind in Dr. King’s memory. But it isn’t simply a day off. It’s meant to be a celebratory day honoring the life of a man who changed the fabric of history.
So we thought you LitStackers would be interested in a few great books that chronicle his life and remarkable legacy. These selections come from The Huffington Post and we hope you’ll check out the full list of their selections here.
The following are a few of our personal favorites.
Thank you, Dr. King, for your courage, your grace and your inspiration,.
‘The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.’, edited by Clayborne Carson
Using Stanford University’s voluminous collection of archival material, including previously unpublished writings, interviews, recordings, and correspondence, King scholar Clayborne Carson has constructed a remarkable first-person account of Dr. King’s extraordinary life. Beginning with his boyhood, the book portrays King’s education as a minister, his ascendancy as a leader of the Montgomery bus boycott, his pivotal role in the civil rights demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and his complex relationship with the Kennedy brothers, LBJ, Malcolm X, and numerous other leading figures of the day.
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead,” civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., told a crowd gathered at Memphis’s Clayborn Temple on April 3, 1968. “But it really doesn’t matter to me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop. . . . And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.”
These prophetic words, uttered the day before his assassination, challenged those he left behind to see that his “promised land” of racial equality became a reality; a reality to which King devoted the last twelve years of his life.
These words and other are commemorated here in the only major one-volume collection of this seminal twentieth-century American prophet’s writings, speeches, interviews, and autobiographical reflections. A Testament of Hope contains Martin Luther King, Jr.’s essential thoughts on nonviolence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love and hope, and more.
‘Strength to Love’, Martin Luther King Jr.
“If there is one book Martin Luther King, Jr. has written that people consistently tell me has changed their lives, it is Strength to Love.”
So wrote Coretta Scott King. She continued: “I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ s philosophy of nonviolence: His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life. That insight, luminously conveyed in this classic text, here presented in a new and attractive edition, hints at the personal transformation at the root of social justice: ” By reaching into and beyond ourselves and tapping the transcendent moral ethic of love, we shall overcome these evils.”
In these short meditative and sermonic pieces, some of them composed in jails and all of them crafted during the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights struggle, Dr. King articulated and espoused in a deeply personal compelling way his commitment to justice and to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion that makes his work as much a blueprint today for Christian discipleship as it was then.
Individual readers, as well as church groups and students will find in this work a challenging yet energizing vision of God and redemptive love.
‘The Measure of a Man’, Martin Luther King Jr.
Why nonviolence matters.
Eloquent and passionate, reasoned and sensitive, this pair of meditations by the revered civil-rights leader contains the theological roots of his political and social philosophy of nonviolent activism.
‘Why We Can’t Wait’, Martin Luther King Jr.
“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim…when you see the vast majority of twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky…when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you…when…your wife and mother are never given the respected title ‘Mrs.’…when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness’—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.”