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January 08, 2024

A Reading List to Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Ryan Houdek, Collection Development Librarian

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic oratory is indelible and so is his writing. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail is arguably the pivotal document in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. King authored this open letter in April of 1963 just months before the March on Washington and the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In it, he defines his nonviolent campaign, challenges supporters’ ambivalence, and upends racial injustice and violence inflicted upon black America by white America.

King’s gift of blending historical, theological, social, institutional, and political ideas powerfully brings the audience into an aspirational realm and awakening. And 60 years ago, America did awaken to the reality of hate, what it means, and how it could possibly end. King’s famous I Have a Dream speech enshrined reality and possibility for America. The 1964 Civil Rights Act propelled forward to the 1965 Voting Rights Act and then the 1968 Civil Rights Act. Unquestionably, federal legislation was not possible without King.

King’s prolific scholarship, leadership, and life journey from Atlanta to Washington and beyond offer different avenues of reading. His works span theology, politics, sociology, philosophy, and history. This MLK Jr. Day, take some time to read more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s profound life and enduring legacy.

You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live
By Paul Kix

Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Laws That Changed America
By Nick Kotz

Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
By David J. Garrow

Letter from Birmingham Jail: “I Have a Dream” Speech
By Martin Luther King Jr.

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History
By Jeanne Theoharis

Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Essential Box Set: The Landmark Speeches and Sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr. (eAudiobook)
by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran

I am MLK Jr. (DVD)

King: A Filmed Record (Movie)

Find more about MLK Jr. at HEPL, including Books, Audiobooks, and DVDs. You can also find more eBooks and eAudiobooks about MLK Jr. on Libby and eBooks, eAudiobooks, and movies about MLK Jr. on Hoopla.