5 Books about Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s Martin Luther King Day, so we picked out five books written by or about the renowned civil rights leader that are worth looking at.
Using Stanford University’s voluminous collection of archival material, including previously unpublished writings, interviews, recordings, and correspondence, King scholar Clayborne Carson has constructed a remarkable first-person account of Dr.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. It’s MLK in his own words, the autobiography he might have written had he lived longer.
DEATH OF A KING by Tavis Smiley with David Ritz
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.
STRENGTH TO LOVE by 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,” 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.
A PICTURE BOOK OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. by David Adler & Robert Casilla
Ages 4-9. A brief, illustrated, biography of the Baptist minister and civil rights leader whose philosophy and practice of nonviolent civil disobedience helped American blacks win many battles for equal rights. Publishers Weekly wrote, “The book portrays the hatred King endured, the horror of his assassination and the intense power of his message. A single-page list of important dates closes the book. Its most striking aspect is Casilla’s evocative watercolor paintings, which expand the text while celebrating the man.”
WHO WAS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR? by Bonnie Bader
Ages 8-12. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights. Maintaining nonviolent and peaceful tactics even when his life was threatened, King was also an advocate for the poor and spoke out against racial and economic injustice until his death from an assassin’s bullet in 1968. With clearly written text that explains this tumultuous time in history and 80 black-and-white illustrations, this Who Was?? celebrates the vision and the legacy of a remarkable man.
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