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Martin Luther King, Jr.: Martin Luther King, Jr.

A research guide on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

This guide contains information on McKee Library's collection of resources relating to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, including recommended books for further reading, films, and research materials. 

Web Resources

Research & Resources

The following resources are part of McKee Library's collection and require a SAU login to access the material. 

Featured Works

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr

Celebrated Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson is the director and editor of the Martin Luther King Papers Project; with thousands of King's essays, notes, letters, speeches, and sermons at his disposal, Carson has organized King's writings into a posthumous autobiography. In an early student essay, King prophetically penned: "We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance.... We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime." Such statements, made throughout King's career, are skillfully woven together into a coherent narrative of the quest for social justice. The autobiography delves, for example, into the philosophical training King received at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University, where he consolidated the teachings of Afro-American theologian Benjamin Mays with the philosophies of Locke, Rousseau, Gandhi, and Thoreau. Through King's voice, the reader intimately shares in his trials and triumphs, including the Montgomery Boycott, the 1963 "I Have a Dream Speech," the Selma March, and the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

To Shape a New World

Martin Luther King, Jr., may be America's most revered political figure, commemorated in statues, celebrations, and street names around the world. On the fiftieth anniversary of King's assassination, the man and his activism are as close to public consciousness as ever. But despite his stature, the significance of King's writings and political thought remains underappreciated. In To Shape a New World, Tommie Shelby and Brandon Terry write that the marginalization of King's ideas reflects a romantic, consensus history that renders the civil rights movement inherently conservative--an effort not at radical reform but at "living up to" enduring ideals laid down by the nation's founders. On this view, King marshaled lofty rhetoric to help redeem the ideas of universal (white) heroes, but produced little original thought. This failure to engage deeply and honestly with King's writings allows him to be conscripted into political projects he would not endorse, including the pernicious form of "color blindness" that insists, amid glaring race-based injustice, that racism has been overcome. Cornel West, Danielle Allen, Martha Nussbaum, Robert Gooding-Williams, and other authors join Shelby and Terry in careful, critical engagement with King's understudied writings on labor and welfare rights, voting rights, racism, civil disobedience, nonviolence, economic inequality, poverty, love, just-war theory, virtue ethics, political theology, imperialism, nationalism, reparations, and social justice. 

Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting rights act of 1965

The work of David J. Garrow is more than a day-by-day account of how the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 came into being.  It is also a skillful analysis of the dynamics of protest activity and more particularly of the ways in which successful protesters deliberately use the mass media to influence uninvolved audiences.? ?American Historical Review ?A valuable book, because it is a reminder of both the heroism and the brutality displayed in the great civil rights crusade.? ?David Herbert Donald, The New Republic ?One of the most comprehensive studies yet of a single campaign within the civil-rights movement.? ?Pat Watters, New York Times Book Review ?An excellent fusion of important theoretical constructs with careful and thoughtful empirical analysis.  A desirable addition to most college libraries, useful for a variety of courses?.Thoroughly documented.  Recommended.? ?Choice ]]>

Death of a King

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.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Image of God

Hundreds of volumes have been written on the life and civil-rights work of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. One aspect of King that has received surprisingly little attention, however, is his theology. While it is common knowledge that King emerged from the black church tradition, and manyhave pointed to his religious lineage as a source for his social activism, few have actually examined the content of his religious beliefs and how they are related to his fight for African American civil rights. Richard Wills concentrates here on one particular piece of King's theology, imago dei -the idea that human beings are made in God's image. Wills begins by tracing the evolution of this idea through the history of Christian thought, showing the intellectual sources King drew on in constructing his own theology. Wills then demonstrates how King employed this idea in his civil rightswork. The idea that we are all made in God's image was crucial, Wills shows, to King's understanding of human nature and equality. While King shared with many of his black church forebears the view that humanity's creation by God was a powerful argument for the equality of all people, he also tookthe concept much further. For King, being made in God's image meant that human beings have not only the right but also the power to reshape society and to build a "Beloved Community" on earth. 

Boycott

When Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat in the "whites only" section of the bus, she sets in motion the Civil Rights movement, making Martin Luther King, Jr. a national leader.

Breaking White Supremacy

This magisterial follow-up to The New Abolition, a Grawemeyer Award winner, tells the crucial second chapter in the black social gospel's history. The civil rights movement was one of the most searing developments in modern American history. It abounded with noble visions, resounded with magnificent rhetoric, and ended in nightmarish despair. It won a few legislative victories and had a profound impact on U.S. society, but failed to break white supremacy. The symbol of the movement, Martin Luther King Jr., soared so high that he tends to overwhelm anything associated with him. Yet the tradition that best describes him and other leaders of the civil rights movement has been strangely overlooked.   In his latest book, Gary Dorrien continues to unearth the heyday and legacy of the black social gospel, a tradition with a shimmering history, a martyred central figure, and enduring relevance today. This part of the story centers around King and the mid-twentieth-century black church leaders who embraced the progressive, justice-oriented, internationalist social gospel from the beginning of their careers and fulfilled it, inspiring and leading America's greatest liberation movement.

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