Since 1986, Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday has been recognized as an American holiday. Celebrated on the third Monday of January, near his January 15 birthday, it is a time to reflect on Dr. King’s many accomplishments and to note that he was only 39 years old when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The Monrovia Public Library has an excellent collection of books on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement he led. In light of the current film Selma, one book to consider is Selma 1965: The March That Changed the South by Charles Fager. Written 3 years after the march Dr. King led from the city of Selma to the Alabama capitol of Montgomery, it is an account of that march and the marchers who endured physical attacks only because they were promoting voting rights.
Taylor Branch won the Pulitzer Prize for his 3 volume work chronicling the life of Dr. King and the years in which he was on the forefront of the civil rights movement. At Canaan’s Edge, Parting the Waters and Pillar of Fire are masterfully told books that capture not just the biographical and historical events, but also MLK’s tremendous moral authority.
Death of a King by PBS newsman Tavis Smiley is about Dr. King’s final year on earth. Smiley looks at Dr. King’s trials and tribulations, the criticism he received, his goals and his personal life. This is intimate and engaging look at a man who faithfully believed in non-violence.
Dr. King’s memorable I Have a Dream speech was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. The Dream: Martin Luther King’s Speech that Inspired a Nation is a history and analysis of that address and how Dr. King wrote it and then made spontaneous changes.
Click on the following to see Dr. King’s soaring I Have a Dream speech: