Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man with a vision, a mission and, certainly, a dream.
King’s life story has been told in many forms, documentaries, movies, television dramas and on the stage. And like most of history’s greatest figures, King’s story has been told many times over in books.
Tarun Mittal of the Christian Post put together five must-reads about King, offerings that may still add even more insight to one of the most celebrated leaders in American history. What makes Mittal’s list significant is that four of the five were penned by King himself:
1. “Why We Can’t Wait” by Martin Luther King Jr.
At the heart of this book written by MLK himself is the powerful and heart-wrenching “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” While jailed for participating in a civil rights demonstration in 1963, King received a letter from fellow clergymen urging him to drop his campaigns and to leave the battle for racial equality to the courts.
In response, King drafted a powerful essay that expounded the atrocities faced by the Negro community, defended the nonviolent movement and emphasized the immediate need for racial equality.
2. “A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches by Martin Luther King Jr.”
Outlining MLK’s views on capitalism, poverty, military campaigns, social policies, Black Nationalism and much more, this collection of his writings, speeches and interviews allows the reader to delve into the mind of the legend. And what makes this book a must-read is his writings and thoughts, which remain relevant even today as we face many of the same social and political challenges.
3. “Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King Jr.” by Stephen B. Oates
With historical figures like MLK, the legend of the man often overshadows the person. We tend to put such people on a pedestal and evangelize them as something beyond human, which is something that prevents us from understanding them.
In this book, Oates tells the story of MLK in a thoroughly objective manner, recounting events and letting readers draw their own conclusions of the man. He also manages to render an overall perspective of the civil rights movement as a whole, and he does it better than any history textbook has ever managed to.
4. “Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr.”
Before he became a civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. was a practicing Baptist minister. This book is a collection of sermons made by MLK which detail his thought process, his convictions and his outlook on the problems of society. Despite the atrocities faced by his community, he preached only love and forgiveness as the answer to hate and violence.
Reading this book is bound to humble you and change your thinking about some of the most important issues of society and, indeed, life itself.
5. “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” by Martin Luther King Jr.
Penned by MLK a year before his assassination, this amazingly frank book reflects his visionary thinking along with his fears and frustrations.
MLK considered the 1965 civil rights legislature to be the easier challenge compared to what needed to be done in order to lift the African-American community as a whole after the initial victory. He lambasted the use of violence in the fight against inequality and urged for a world where everyone learned to live together in harmony regardless of caste, creed or religion.
If you want to know Martin Luther King Jr. not just as a historic icon or a celebrated leader but as a person with humanity, then add this to your reading list.