On Monday, January 21, classes will be cancelled to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The holiday recognizes King’s birthday on January 15, 1929; had King lived, he would be 90 years old.
Several events on campus commemorate King’s legacy as a Civil Rights activist, minister, and crusader against racial injustice, socioeconomic inequality, and violence of the Vietnam War. Consider attending the MLK Prayer Breakfast or lending a hand for a Day of Service on Monday. Or attend the screening and discussion of an episode from the documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” on Tuesday.
You can also honor the importance of King’s work by learning more about him and the lives of other Civil Rights activists. Did you know Martin Luther King Jr. posthumously won a Grammy in 1971? Or that Rosa Parks served on the Board of Advocates of Planned Parenthood? Check out a film, biography, or novel from the Library to dive deeper into the Civil Rights movement and its legacy.
DVD Collection; Call number: F334.B69 N45 2010
When a bomb tears through the basement of a black Baptist church on a peaceful fall morning, it takes the lives of four young girls; Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins. This racially motivated crime, taking place at a time when the civil rights movement is burning with a new flame, could have doused that flame forever. Instead it fuels a nation’s outrage and brings Birmingham, Alabama to the forefront of America’s concern.
DVD Collection; Call number: E185.97.K5 C585 2004
In exploring the last few years of his life, this American Experience production traces King’s efforts to recast himself by embracing causes beyond the civil rights movement, by becoming a champion of the poor and an outspoken opponent of the war in Vietnam. Tapping into a rich archive of photographs and film footage and using diaries, letters, and eyewitness accounts of fellow activists, friends, journalists, political leaders and law enforcement officials, this film brings fresh insights to King’s impossible journey, his charismatic leadership and his truly remarkable impact.
DVD Collection; Call number: E185.97.K5 K564 2013
The life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama, and culminating with his assassination in Memphis in 1968. Including archival footage, this film is an indispensable primary resource of a pivotal moment in American and world history. Originally screened in theaters for only a single night in 1970.
Call number: E185.97.K5 J343 2008
Author Troy Jackson chronicles King’s emergence and effectiveness as a civil rights leader by examining his relationship with the people of Montgomery, Alabama. Using the sharp lens of Montgomery’s struggle for racial equality to investigate King’s burgeoning leadership, Jackson explores King’s ability to connect with the educated and the unlettered, professionals and the working class.
March by John Lewis
Call number: E840.8.L43 A3 2013 book 1
This graphic novel is a first-hand account of Congressman John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book one spans Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.
Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice by Gordon K. Mantler
Ebook; read it here
In a major reinterpretation of civil rights and Chicano movement history, Gordon K. Mantler demonstrates how King’s unfinished crusade became the era’s most high-profile attempt at multiracial collaboration and sheds light on the interdependent relationship between racial identity and political coalition among African Americans and Mexican Americans. Mantler argues that while the fight against poverty held great potential for black-brown cooperation, such efforts also exposed the complex dynamics between the nation’s two largest minority groups.
Origins of the Dream: Hughes’ Poetry and King’s Rhetoric by W. Jason Miller
Call number: PS3515.U274 Z6844 2015
For years, some scholars have privately suspected Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech was connected to Langston Hughes’s poetry, and the link between the two was purposefully veiled through careful allusions in King’s orations. In Origins of the Dream, W. Jason Miller lifts that veil to demonstrate how Hughes’s revolutionary poetry became a measurable inflection in King’s voice, and that the influence can be found in more than just the one famous speech.
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
Call number: F334.M753 P3883 2013
The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement and presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks.
Fiction and Poetry
Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell
Popular Reading; Call number: Fiction Campbell
Moving quickly and believably from the eve of integration in rural Mississippi to the present-day street gangs in Chicago’s housing projects, Campbell captures the gulf between pre-and post-civil rights America; her story, starting with the murder of a young black man whose trial–argued before an all-white jury–captures national attention, shows us how far we have come and yet suggests we have not come so far after all.
Words of Protest, Words of Freedom: Poetry of the American Civil Rights Movement and Era edited by Jeffrey Lamar Coleman
Call number: PS595.R32 W549 2012
Words of Protest, Words of Freedom is the first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955–75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century—including Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, and Derek Walcott—alongside lesser-known poets, activists, and ordinary citizens, this anthology presents a varied and vibrant set of voices, highlighting the tremendous symbolic reach of the civil rights movement within and beyond the United States.
Dreamer: A Novel by Charles Johnson
Call number: PS3560.O3735 D7 1998
Set against the tensions of Civil Rights era America, Dreamer is a remarkable fictional excursion into the last two years of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, when the political and personal pressures on this country’s most preeminent moral leader were the greatest. While in Chicago for his first northern campaign against poverty and inequality, King encounters Chaym Smith, whose startling physical resemblance to King wins him the job of official stand-in. Matthew Bishop, a civil rights worker and loyal follower of King, is given the task of training the smart and deeply cynical Smith for the job.
While we have many books in the Library about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, we don’t have them all. Are we missing a great book or film about King? Let us know!