Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observed in the United States

Wherever freedom and the right to exercise it are honored, so will be the memory of the great Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of the American civil rights movement, who was born on January 15, 1929, and was cruelly assassinated on April 4, 1968.   He followed the nonviolent example of Mahatma Ghandi, and, like him, ironically died a violent death.

Sadly, not every employer in the U.S. chooses to honor the memory of this unforgettable man.  He is indeed honored by those whose moral compass compels them to do so.

Dr. King's famous speech, "I Have a Dream", which he delivered at the 1963 Washington, D.C. Civil Rights March, rallied every citizen who truly believed in racial equality.

His stirring speeches have been gathered into several books, one of which I have listed here.  I have also included his 'autobiography', which was actually compiled from several sources,  a biography written by 'the reporter who became the unofficial chronicler of the civil rights movement' (Goodreads synopsis), and a book of reflections on the principles of nonviolence, titled Strength to Love.  Also included here is Dr. King's compelling account of the 1963 Birmingham campaign, Why We Can't Wait.

edited by Clayborn Carson
Trade Paperback, 366 pages
Warner Books
January 1, 2001
(first published 2001)
Autobiography, Nonfiction

Book Synopsis

Using Stanford University's voluminous collection of archival material, including previously unpublished writings, interviews, recordings, and correspondence, King scholar Clayborne Carson has constructed a remarkable first-person account of Dr.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.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Augsburg Fortress Publishers
May 28, 1981
(first published 1963)
Inspirational, Nonfiction

Book Synopsis

The remarkable courage and deep conviction of Martin Luther King Jr. live on in this classic prophetic text, a veritable primer in the principles and practice of nonviolence. Despite nearly fifty years since its publication, Strength to Love reads as pertinently to our situation as it did in the midst of the civil rights movement.


Trade Paperback, 224 pages
Penguin Group, USA
December 27, 2005
Biography, Nonfiction

Book Synopsis

Marshall Frady, the reporter who became the unofficial chronicler of the civil rights movement, here re-creates the life and turbulent times of its inspirational leader. Deftly interweaving the story of King’s quest with a history of the African American struggle for equality, Frady offers fascinating insights into his subject’s magnetic character, with its mixture of piety and ambition. He explores the complexities of King’s relationships with other civil rights leaders, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, who conducted a relentless vendetta against him. The result is a biography that conveys not just the facts of King’s life but the power of his legacy.

The Essential Writings and Speeches
of Martin Luther King, Jr.
edited by James M. Washington
Trade Paperback, 736 pages
December 7, 1990
(first published 1986)
Essays, History, Politics, Philosophy, 
Nonfiction, Social Justice

Book Synopsis

Here, in the only major one-volume collection of his writings, speeches, interviews, and autobiographical reflections, is Martin Luther
King Jr. on non-violence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love and hope,
and more.

Why We Can't Wait
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Beacon Press
January 11, 2011
(first published 1963)
Essays, History, Politics, Philosophy,
Nonfiction, Social Justice

Book Synopsis

Often applauded as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most incisive and eloquent book, Why We Can’t Wait recounts the Birmingham campaign in vivid detail, while underscoring why 1963 was such a crucial year for the civil rights movement. During this time, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States, but the campaign launched by Fred Shuttlesworth, King, and others demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action. King examines the history of the civil rights struggle and the tasks that future generations must accomplish to bring about full equality. The book also includes the extraordinary “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which King wrote in April of 1963.

 Famous Dr. King Quotes

"I have a dream that my four little children
will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color
of their skin, but
by the content of their character."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not
where he stands in moments
of comfort and convenience, but
where he stands at times of challenge
and controversy."

"Our lives begin to end the day
we become silent about things that matter."

"I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear."

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Online Links


  1. Thanks for putting up this terrific post for the holiday Maria. Sadly not just employers, but many aspects of our society do not take this holiday seriously enough. I have been meaning to read a King biography for a while and I really should get to one of the above books this year.

    1. Hey, Brian!

      You're very welcome! Actually, this is basically the same post I put up last year, except that I expanded it. I added two more books, and the famous Dr. King quotes. I also changed the picture at the top of the post. I thought the previous one just looked too 'cartoonish', and took away from the seriousness of the subject matter.

      I also enlarged the pictures of the books, as well as the text underneath each. As for the links, I decided to use words with links attached, instead of the links themselves, which were too long.

      I, too, have been meaning to read a King biography. Like you, I'm definitely planning to get to one of these books this year!

      This man was an American hero, and he should be honored accordingly. That's why I made the improvements in the post. And you know, I've even heard that it was the U.S. government that had him assassinated! I don't know whether or not that's true, but I saw a Facebook post about that the other day.

      As always, thanks for visiting and leaving such a nice comment!! : )


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