Books to Get You Thinking

August 28, 2013 marked fifty years since Rev Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his rousing address  “ I have a Dream…,” making an indelible mark on the nation, ushering in a new era and becoming an enduring symbol of the civil rights movement.  King delivered his inspiring speech on a sweltering hot day during the historical March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs before an audience of 250,000 people who had come for this Event to demand racial equality, justice and an end to discrimination.

“Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the course of American history by challenging – and inspiring – the country to confront injustice and live up to our founding ideals.  The words he spoke at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 will forever be immortalized for their beauty and power, and they will forever echo in the soul of American life.” (Michael Bloomberg)

Mercer County Library has a rich collection of books on King, his writings and his inspiring speeches for our readers to enjoy.

The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream by Gary Younge
The author, a British journalist and columnist for the Guardian, provides a riveting account of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that took place half a century ago as well as the key events leading up to it. The book is based on extensive biographical research and first-hand interviews with key civil rights leaders present at the March including Clarence Jones, Angela Davis and Joan Baez, a singer at the March.  With remarkable detail and lucidity, Younge captures the excitement, determination and hope pervading the thronging crowds on that sunny day in August 1963. At the same time, readers are introduced to the author’s perspective on the political background surrounding the March and the strategic role played by Martin Luther King and other key leaders of the Movement. Younge presents a penetrating  line-by-line analysis of the speech,  contributing to a better understanding of King’s philosophy and thinking, and why this speech among all the others delivered by King and other civil rights leaders stands out as timeless in the history of the world.

Behind the Dream : The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation by Clarence B Jones and Stuart Connelly
Clarence Jones, currently a Visiting Professor at Stanford University ,was King’s trusted adviser and speech-writer. Jones, who is now in his eighties, made a decision to share his unique insider’s view of the events, discussions, planning and arranging in the months and days leading up to the historic March.  Jones refers to King’s speech as “a summons to the conscience of America” – it electrified a nation and changed the course of history not only because of the content and King's fiery delivery but because it was delivered in a highly emotionally-charged milieu amidst an audience of over a quarter million people who had traveled to Washington to speak in one voice against the injustices inflicted on African Americans. The famous words I Have a Dream had been used by King in earlier addresses and were originally not part of the speech drafted for the March but towards the end of his address he put his written speech aside and delivered the rest completely extempore - it was to become one of America’s most powerful and well known orations of all times.

King’s Dream by Eric Sundquist
Based on in-depth research, Eric Sundquist, professor of Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles provides an in-depth perspective on the many different facets and themes that were an inherent part of Martin Luther King’s legendary speech. The author has written a set of six different essays in this book.  Each essay closely examines a specific theme contained in King’s speech by tracing the origins and meanings of the words and linking the cultural and historical references in the speech with the surrounding political landscape and dominant civil rights issues. The author emphasizes how understanding the many dimensions of King’s speech is key to fully comprehending the civil rights movement and its history. King’s words are also frequently misinterpreted – an instance of this is eloquently discussed in the last chapter of the book, “Not by the Color of their Skin” where Eric Sundquist takes up the subject of affirmative action and King’s stand on this very contentious issue. He further examines the historical significance of King’s speech and views it as a “Second Emancipation Proclamation” in America’s quest for equal rights and justice for all.                                                                                                                                              
-Nita Mathur 


Popular posts from this blog

Ocean-in-a-Bottle Craft for Kids

Neil Gaiman Ruined My Life

The Discipline of Gratitude