Today, as we celebrate the #MLKDay holiday, we believe that it is fitting to share some helpful resources that can educate our TJC family on the holistic vision of Dr. King. Far more than just an orator, Dr. King’s expression of justice is rooted in theological and philosophical depth. His rigorous commitment to love was deepened by his understanding of Gospel principles and theology. With this in mind, we have compiled 7 resources that will help you to understand the movement and the man behind Dr. Martin Luther King. We hope that these resources will inspire you to continue to chase justice together.

1. Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch

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“The first volume of the definitive history of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement – a struggle that was to change American forever.

In Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch has created an unparalleled epic of America in the midst of change, poised on the threshold of its most explosive era. Here is a vivid, panoramic portrait of America divided, at war with itself, and finally transformed by a struggle that left no citizen untouched – the civil rights movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., borne by the spirit of a generation of young black leaders determined to seize equality and justice.

In Parting the Waters, Branch chronicles the struggle, from the twilight of the Eisenhower years through King’s fiery political baptism, the ascension of John F. Kennedy, and ultimately, the dawning of the New South. Moving from the black churches where the movement began in anthems, sermons, and prayers to Washington, where the Kennedy brothers weighed the demands of a down-trodden people against the volatile realities of politics, Branch weaves a tapestry of exciting stories: the Montgomery bus boycott, the Freedom Rides, the siege of Birmingham, the lunch-counter sit-ins, the church bombings, and – as the movement reached its apex – the tragedy of Kennedy’s assassination.”- Parting the Waters

2. Let the Trumpet Sound by Stephen B. Oates

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“By the acclaimed biographer of Abraham Lincoln, Nat Turner, and John Brown, Stephen B. Oates’s prizewinning Let the Trumpet Sound is the definitive one-volume life of Martin Luther King, Jr. This brilliant examination of the great civil rights icon and the movement he led provides a lasting portrait of a man whose dream shaped American history.” – Harper Collins

3. Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Dr. King

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“While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms” – Dr. King

4. Stride Toward Freedom by Dr. King

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“Martin Luther King, Jr.’s account of the first successful large-scale application of nonviolence resistance in America is comprehensive, revelatory, and intimate. King described his book as “the chronicle of fifty thousand Negroes who took to heart the principles of nonviolence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth.” It traces the phenomenal journey of a community, and shows how the twenty-eight-year-old Dr. King, with his conviction for equality and nonviolence, helped transformed the nation-and the world.” – Stride Toward Freedom

5. Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. King

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“In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States. The campaign launched by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement on the segregated streets of Birmingham demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action.

In this remarkable book—winner of the Nobel Peace Prize—Dr. King recounts the story of Birmingham in vivid detail, tracing the history of the struggle for civil rights back to its beginnings three centuries ago and looking to the future, assessing the work to be done beyond Birmingham to bring about full equality for African Americans. Above all, Dr. King offers an eloquent and penetrating analysis of the events and pressures that propelled the Civil Rights movement from lunch counter sit-ins and prayer marches to the forefront of American consciousness.

Since its publication in the 1960s, Why We Can’t Wait has become an indisputable classic. Now, more than ever, it is an enduring testament to the wise and courageous vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.” – Why We Can’t Wait

6. In a Single Garment of Destiny: A Global Vision of Justice by Dr. King, Edited by Lewis V. Baldwin

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“Too many people continue to think of Dr. King only as “a southern civil rights leader” or “an American Gandhi,” thus ignoring his impact on poor and oppressed people around the world. “In a Single Garment of Destiny” is the first book to treat King’s positions on global liberation struggles through the prism of his own words and activities.

From the pages of this extraordinary collection, King emerges not only as an advocate for global human rights but also as a towering figure who collaborated with Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert J. Luthuli, Thich Nhat Hanh, and other national and international figures in addressing a multitude of issues we still struggle with today—from racism, poverty, and war to religious bigotry and intolerance. Introduced and edited by distinguished King scholar Lewis Baldwin, this volume breaks new ground in our understanding of King” – In a Single Garment of Destiny

7. Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero by Vincent Harding

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“In these eloquent essays, noted scholar and activist Vincent Harding reflects on the forgotten legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message for today. While many prefer to embrace the “safer” message of King’s stirring “I Have a Dream” speech, Harding writes passionately of King’s later years, when his message and witness became more radical and challenging to the status quo at every level.”- Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero

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