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January 06, 2021

Martin Luther King, Jr. & The Civil Rights Movement

By: Pam Lamberger

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

When you think of civil rights in America, the first name that likely comes to mind is that of Martin Luther King, Jr., and rightly so. It seems that fate had groomed this precocious young man, born 92 years ago in Atlanta, for a higher purpose. A graduate of Moorhouse College at just 19, he completed a Bachelor of Divinity degree at 22, and received his doctorate at 26. Rather impressive, isn’t it?

King came on the public scene at a time that was ripe for racial upheaval. He was armed with a stellar education, impeccable spiritual foundation, and riveting personal charisma. These attributes propelled him to spearhead a national movement, inspiring others to action. Only 39 when his life was extinguished by an assassin’s bullet, King had seemed aware that he might have little time to address the racial segregation and blatant discrimination that had hindered opportunities for African American people for decades. He was driven to make a difference.

King gained his own inspiration from his Baptist preacher father, Martin Luther King, Sr. and grandfather, James King. Young Martin was also influenced by others — Benjamin Mays, President of Moorhouse College when he was a student there; Rosa Parks, who refused to vacate her seat on a Montgomery bus; and Mohandas Gandhi, Indian teacher of nonviolent resistance. King went on to accomplish great things; his leadership contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, after which he won the Nobel Peace Prize that same year. He was also instrumental in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

After his death in 1968, King was honored with the establishment of a national holiday in his name, which was first celebrated on January 20, 1986 and has continued every third Monday in January since. In addition, a permanent King memorial, The Stone of Hope, opened in 2011 near the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

You can learn more about this iconic American leader through books, sound recordings, films, and databases, all available through the Hamilton East Public Library. A few are featured here, along with links to credible outside sources related to MLK.

Books & Audiobooks



Accessible from the HEPL Homepage under Services: Search “Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Overdrive: Downloadable eBooks

  • Becoming King: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Making of a National Leader, by Troy Jackson: eBook
  • The Civil Rights Movement: Movements That Matter, by Eric Braun: eBook
  • Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm, by Kazu Haga: eBook
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: Walking in the Light, by John M. Fishman: eBook
  • Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, by Lynda Blackmon Lowery: eBook

Hoopla: Downloadable eBooks, Audiobooks, Movies, and Music

  • The Concise King, by Calyborne Carson: Downloadable Audiobook
  • The Great March on Washington, by Various Artists: Music
  • I Have a Dream Speech, by Martin Luther King, Jr.: Downloadable Audiobook
  • King: A Filmed Record: Movie
  • King: Man of Peace in a Time of War: Movie
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr.: Downloadable Audiobook
  • The Measure of a Man, by Martin Luther King, Jr.: eBook and Downloadable Audiobook
  • Speeches by Martin Luther King, by Martin Luther King, Jr.: Downloadable Audiobook
  • Stride Toward Freedom, by Martin Luther King, Jr.: Downloadable Audiobook


  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change: The official web site of the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia: https://thekingcenter.org
  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute: Sermons, speeches, writings etc. held at Stanford University: https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu
  • Martin Luther King National Historic Site: Includes King’s childhood home, church and grave site: https://nps.gov/malu/index.edu
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: Seattle Times Special Edition: A broad review of King’s life and work, which also includes teaching resources for parents and educators in addition to current news linked to MLK: https://projects.seattletimes.com/mlk/

MLK Notable Quotes

  • “The time is always right to do what is right.”
  •  “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  •  “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
  •  “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”