Over the past few years, there has been a rise in individuals promoting positions and legislation hostile to the interests of Black people casually invoking Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name as a seal of approval for their actions.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cited King to justify his attack on Black Lives Matter. The outgoing vice president, Mike Pence, even compared impeached, former President Donald Trump’s historic impact to that of King’s.
If only there were written record of King’s stances on issues? Oh wait. There is.
One as aspect of King’s ministry that has been undervalued over the years is the written record of his thoughts as captured in books he authored. Here is a listing of those books, so you can read King’s thoughts for yourself, and then determine who does or does not honor King with the stances they push today.
‘Stride Toward Freedom’ (1958)
- “Stride Toward Freedom” is more than King’s memoir of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In his own words, it is “the chronicle of 50,000 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.”
‘The Measure of a Man’ (1959)
- First published in 1959, “The Measure of a Man” is the text of two devotional speeches made by Dr. King at the National Conference on Christian Education of the United Church of Christ, held at Purdue University in the summer of 1958. In response to demands made by conference attendees, King allowed publication of the addresses. The speeches were praised by many who were inspired and enlightened by their clear message on how to live a complete life centered on oneself, others and God.
‘Strength to Love’ (1963)
- “Strength to Love” is described as the first volume of sermons by an African American preacher widely available to a white audience. This collection of King’s sermons and meditations touches on themes several themes relevant today, including the importance of having “a tough mind and a tender heart,” working through fear and shattered dreams, and more. King also offers a strong rebuke of the Christian church regarding its failure to stand up for the marginalized and oppressed.
‘Why We Can’t Wait’ (1964)
- This work focuses on the nonviolent movement against U.S. racial segregation. More specifically, it spotlights the 1963 Birmingham campaign, and celebrates 1963 as a landmark year in the Civil Rights Movement. King even refers to the struggles and successes of that year as the beginning of America’s “Negro Revolution.”
‘Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community’ (1967)
- In what some consider King’s last book, “Where Do We Go from Here” outlines King’s assessment of the first phase of the Civil Rights Movement, which he suggests closed after the victory of the Voting Rights Act and the Birmingham movement. He then spends time outlining the next phase of the movement, including the new challenges he sees on the horizon, and his thoughts on how to meet those challenges.
‘The Trumpet of Conscience’ (1968)
- In November and December 1967, King delivered five lectures for the renowned Massey Lecture Series of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The collection was immediately released as a book under the title “Conscience for Change,” leading some to contend this was King’s final book. However, after King’s assassination in 1968, the work was republished as “The Trumpet of Conscience,” which is why others contend his previous work, “Where Do We Go from Here,” was King’s last publication.