Monday, April 6, 2009

The Words of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Words of Martin Luther King Jr.
© 1983, edited by Coretta Scott King
112 pages

I had intended to read a book on Martin Luther King Jr. back in January near his birthday, but the requested book never arrived. After watching Gandhi last week -- repeatedly -- I thought of King and decided to find another book containing his work. The Words of Martin Luther King Jr. do not contain the full text of his speeches, but consists rather of quotations organized by topic. The most famous portions of "I've Been to the Mountaintop" and "I Have a Dream" are listed, but not "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam", which was the speech that made King come alive for me. The quotations are fitted into various selections -- "The Community of Man", "Racism", "Civil Rights", "Justice and Freedom", "Religion and Faith", "Nonviolence", and finally "Peace", with the bits from his most famous speeches inserted at the end along with a proclamation of Martin Luther King day, signed by Ronald Reagan, and a chronology of King's life. For those interested, I will soon post some of the quotations I liked most at my philosophy/humanities blog. The book's contents were generally enjoyable, but its use is limited: this is a collection of quotations, and while I could make some generalizations about the character of King as they portray it, I would rather draw from a greater context -- like a book containing full speeches.

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