It’s been 35 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first celebrated as a Federal Holiday, and the many aspects of this great man continue to astound and inspire the world.
John A. Kirk’s Martin Luther King: Profiles in Power emphasizes King’s relationship to the wider Civil Right movement, and, as the subtitle suggests, the use of power. MLK’s famous address “Where do we go From Here” extensively discusses the nature of power as “the ability to achieve purpose… the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change…“. The practicalities of politics and power are the focus of Kirk’s 2013 book.
What is told and retold, and what is conveniently forgotten? Author Jennifer Yanco explores how America’s memory of MLK stays with his accomplishments as an orator, civil rights leader and advocate of nonviolence. Often left out is King’s sharp criticism of militarism, spirit-crushing materialism and unabated racism in the United States
King’s well-known and powerful oratory is the subject of two e-books available at NYLI: Sunnemark’s Ring Out Freedom! The Voice of MLK Jr. and Miller’s Martin Luther King’s Biblical Epic: His Final Great Speech.
For history that reads like a spy thriller, check out Ben Kamin‘s Dangerous Friendship. Stanley Levison, a well know figure in the Communist Party – USA and later a trusted advisor of MLK, is its subject. Levison’s past gave Hoover’s FBI the opportunity to wiretap the civil rights leader. Pragmatic President Kennedy gave the go-ahead, although brother Bobby later had misgivings.
Trudier Harris‘ Martin Luther King Jr. in African American Literature offers the reader an analysis of fiction inspired by MLK’s life and legacy. The Black Arts Movement , numerous poets, and an entire chapter dedicated to Katori Hall’s play “The Mountaintop” make this a comprehensive, and yet entirely engaging, book of literary criticism.
Perhaps, for our readers in the legal services field, the best choice for this MLK day would be Robert K. Vischer‘s Martin Luther King Jr. and the Morality of Legal Practice. Rev. King’s principles of human dignity, and sacrificial love (agape) are applied to the law profession; Prof. Vischer warns that lawyers must not be “mouthpieces” but work toward a larger understanding of their clients’ well being.