Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was born in on January 15, 1929 and was killed on April 4th 1968, seventy-nine days after his 39th birthday . Two years ago I decided that within the 11 weeks between those dates I will read a book written by or about Dr. King. I already owned a Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches Martin Luther King Jr., edited by James M. Washington and had read many times over his I Have A dream and Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence speeches, so I was familiar with his work, but I had never read a book by him.
I started with Strength to Love. It is very powerful. I find myself gravitating back to it often and each time I am either happily reminded of an idea or quote, see something new or understand a passage in a different way.
This year I will read The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Martin Luther King Jr. and Clayborne Carson. I’m excited to read about King’s life in his own words. Later this year I plan to read Martin Luther King, Jr.: Nonviolent Strategies and Tactics for Social Change, by John J. AnsbroI to help me in my work to move our nation from waging endless war to peaceful co-existence with our global neighbors.
This is year three. Now I am asking you to take up the reading challenge to read for peace and justice. Kings life and words challenge us to learn how to live in the Beloved Community he envisioned. It is a great way to keep his legacy alive by learning about him yourself, not through filtered speeches and sound bites. You can do it, 11 weeks is plenty of time to read one book.
What to read? This is an important question. Honestly, King is not always an easy, so you may want to start off with a biography like the short but very well done and powerful Martin Luther King Jr. a life, by Marshall Frady. This book alone will give you know insights into King and leave you wanting to hear from King himself.
Another very accessible book to start reading King is with Correta Scott King. The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Selected by Coretta Scott King, will provide you with moving quotes organized according to topics like the Community of Man and Justice and Freedom.
If you want to jump right in read Strength to Love or Why We Can’t Wait. These two together will provide for you the depth and breadth of his thinking about living in community and the future of humanity.
If you already know a lot about King you also know reading him several times over always brings new perspectives and a deeper understanding and respect for his work.
Let us know what you are reading. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, we will keep you posted with some wonderful King quotes and thoughts about him, his life and the challenges before us today.