The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made an everlasting impact during the Civil Rights Movement and on our nation, leading to an extensive collection of works devoted to the iconic civil rights hero who accomplished so much in his short 39 years of life. From children’s literature to a comprehensive biography told through his own words, King’s contributions and greatest moments are recalled and revered in these works.
This Martin Luther King Day take time to expand your knowledge of King’s life. Here are three books, written by Black academics and authors, you can dive into to remember and honor his legacy.
Editor: Clayborne Carson
King’s story comes alive, in his own words, within the pages of this book, which is a collection of King’s work—presented posthumously—composed from his extensive collection of speeches, sermons, letters, and drafts. It shares King’s memories of coming of age in a segregated South, up through his final speeches before his death on April 4, 1968. His widow, Coretta Scott King, entrusted academic professor Clayborne Carson to edit together King’s vast collection of public addresses, private thoughts, and introspective musings. Indeed, there are many, from lessons King learned from his favorite spiritual guru Mahatma Gandhi to his reflections as he sat inside a Birmingham jail cell. While his life ended too soon, King understood that his earthly purpose was to have an impact on others through his message. That sentiment is evident throughout this impressive publication.
Author: Lewis V. Baldwin
Much has been said about King as a leader and iconic activist, but what about the man as a son, a brother, a husband, and a father? Lewis V. Baldwin, a professor who specializes in the history of African-American churches, takes on the task of revealing a more personal side of King in this book. Tapping into testimonials of King’s friends, family, and his own experiences of writing about King for three decades, Behind The Public Veil gracefully exposes King’s human side. It outlines the day-to-day activities King experienced and enjoyed, outside of the spotlight. It reveals King’s recreational passions, including his love of soul food, a definitive appreciation for music and dance, and his fervent draw to sports and other games. It’s a welcomed showcase of King's wit, his grace, his humility, his insecurities, and his struggles, allowing the man to be more than just an icon.
Author: Angela Farris Watkins
Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
A larger-than-life figure for most, King was just the beloved uncle in the eyes of his niece Angela Farris Watkins, who authored this charming children’s book. It flawlessly blends King’s life as a great orator and civil rights leader with the man Watkins and her other cousins knew by King’s family nickname, “Uncle ML.” Farris Watkins shares poignant recollections of her uncle, whether it’s him laughing over her childhood antics, giving her great big hugs at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King served as co-pastor, or one astounding incident where he falls asleep in the most unexpected of places. Beautifully illustrated with Eric Velasquez’s vibrant painted images, My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart is the perfect MLK retrospect for young readers and readers who are young at heart.