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Edited by Clayborne Carson
Published by Abacus £9.99
Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


The Autobiography Of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Autobiography Of Martin Luther King Jr. available at
The Autobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr. available at

Martin Luther King Books

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An amazing book this. Dr. King died less than forty years ago and yet the world he changed is so different to ours today, and yet so similar. We sometimes forget what Rosa Parks (who died not long ago) was protesting about when she wouldn't move to let a white guy sit down on a bus. The discrimination was as extreme as South Africa during apartheid (I was also reminded of a piece in the biography of the jazz musician Sun Ra, in that, in his home town, the only shop that refused to be segregated was the music shop).

Dr. King became drawn into a minor dispute, about the buses, that highlighted to the American nation what was happening in the southern states. From buses, the protest moved to restaurants. From there to education and the desire, nay, righteous demand, of access to the vote. Then widening to the housing market across America that struggled to end the statutory ghettoisation of ethnic groups. Towards the end of the book his attention turned to Vietnam and asks why Black boys should have been fighting for a sham democracy, when they've had no access to the same at home.

The book was created by patching together King's articles, sermons and letters into a whole. Mostly it works. A passionate pacifist who was standing up against evils, one of the true great men of the twentieth century. I have no doubt that other, more critical, biographies would expose his flaws. We all have faults. The difference is, Dr. King changed the world despite them.

There is much that anyone engaged in a protest (be it against the wars in the Middle East, against testing on animals, developments, etc) can learn from. Dr. King, on taking the moral high ground by non-violent resistance. He acknowledged his debt to Gandhi in several places. A shame that they both died for their causes - of peace.


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