Monday, January 19, 2015

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 listed a biography written by 'the reporter who became the unofficial chronicler of the civil rights movement', Marshall Frady.  Also included here is Dr. King's compelling account of the 1963 Birmingham campaign, Why We Can't Wait, as well as a recently-published book on Dr. King's last year of life.


 Martin Luther King, Jr., A Life
Trade Paperback, 224 pages
Penguin Group, USA
December 27, 2005
American History, Biography, Nonfiction
Politics, Social Justice

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.

A Testament of Hope:
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)
American 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)
American History, Politics, Philosophy,
Nonfiction, Social Justice

Amazon US/Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository

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.

Death of a King: The Real Story of 
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Last Year
(with David Ritz)
Hardcover, 288 pages
Little, Brown and Company
September 9, 2014
American History, Biography, 
Nonfiction, Politics, Social Justice

Book Synopsis

 A revealing and dramatic chronicle of the twelve months leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.Martin Luther King, Jr. died in one of the most shocking assassinations the world has known, but little is remembered about the life he led in his final year. New York Times bestselling author and award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley recounts the final 365 days of King's life, revealing the minister's trials and tribulations -- denunciations by the press, rejection from the president, dismissal by the country's black middle class and militants, assaults on his character, ideology, and political tactics, to name a few -- all of which he had to rise above in order to lead and address the racism, poverty, and militarism that threatened to destroy our democracy.

Smiley's Death of a King paints a portrait of a leader and visionary in a narrative different from all that have come before. Here is an exceptional glimpse into King's life -- one that adds both nuance and gravitas to his legacy as an American hero.

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 this post Maria.

    It is really a great way to commemorate Martin Luther King on this holiday.

    It is a terrible irony that so many who have advocated so strongly for peaceful change are in the end murdered.

    I really want to read both of these and should do so sooner rather then later.

  2. Hey, Brian!

    You're very welcome! You know, since I can't attend any MLK events, I think the next best thing for me to do is is to honor his memory on my blog, especially with books written by him, as well as books about him.

    Yes, it is indeed a terrible irony, as you say, that peaceful people -- like King and Ghandi -- always end up being killed. It's as if those who are filled with hatred simply cannot stand it when great heroes of justice advocate for peace and love..... What a sad commentary on the human condition that is!!

    This post is basically the same as last year's post, with some changes. I removed two books, and added a new one -- "Death of a King". Also, I added Goodreads buttons underneath each book, as well as purchase links. It really struck me that I hadn't done these things in the previous post! Also, I found a great portrait of King, with his famous "I have a dream" quote on it.

    I have just added "Death of a King" to Goodreads TBR. The other books are already on it. But of course, I need to to read them, too....I'm a little upset with myself that I haven't done so yet!

    If you're not working today, I hope you're relaxing and having a nice day!

    Thanks for the GREAT comment!! : )


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