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April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Death and How It Changed America Hardcover – March 31, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, is the author of sixteen books, including Holler if You Hear Me, Is Bill Cosby Right? and I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. He is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

From AudioFile

With deep, resonant projection that at times sounds eerily like Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, own voice, Dyson narrates his deep exploration into the most significant aspects of King's legacy since his assassination on April 4, 1968. Paying particular attention to how politicians and cultural leaders have utilized King and his message, Dyson contrasts the real King with the misappropriated icon. This approach allows listeners to see the height of King's impact at the time of his death and the symbol of racial equality he has embodied since. Even when not echoing King's cadence and intonation, Dyson delivers a strong narrative performance that illuminates his belief in King's dream. L.E. © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Civitas Books; 1St Edition edition (March 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002122
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Michael Eric Dyson is best-known for his words. An incredibly well-spoken man, this book presents a delicious word smorgasbord that - and even though I say this as an English major, unfortunately, even had me running for a dictionary several times. And head's up for any of you who also cringe at grammatical error - there are a few typo's in the book.

In any case, Dyson offers an interesting take on Martin Luther King's death and the impact that it had on America, both its positive and negative elements. Dyson comments on King's character, powerful oratory, a brief family history as well as the numerous causes he stood behind. He event hints at a possible government conspiracy as the cause of King's death stating several incidents where the president of the time refused to protect him or even warn King of impending danger at death threats being called in for him. In addition, Dyson concentrates on statistics - both from the late 60's when King was assassinated as well as today - to represent the changes that America has produced since King's death.

I was blown away at the chapter on Jesse Jackson, however, though confused on Dyson's standpoint in regards to it. Dyson informs the reader that directly following King's murder, he instructed others not to speak to the media. After telling all of them that he wasn't feeling well, Abernathy (one of King's right-hand men) spotted Jackson speaking with the media himself, in his desperate attempt to fill King's shoes, claiming that he was the very last person that King ever spoke to - a blatant lie, as Abernathy knew that King had spoken to another associate before taking his last breath.
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Format: Kindle Edition
In spite of the title, this book is not an analysis of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While it does touch on King's death and on the history of the Civil Rights era, author Michael Dyson focuses on three topics: the way that death was a constant companion to Dr. King; his economic message undergirding his later speeches; and the succession of black leaders who followed him.

Dr. King was shadowed by violence and death from the moment he stepped into the Civil Rights limelight in the 1950s. His home was bombed; he received numerous death threats; he endured arrest and imprisonment on the flimsiest of charges; he suffered the hostility of passivity of his fellow pastors; he was hounded and threatened by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. What Dyson does it to discuss the toll that all of this took on King. Dyson coins the term "automortality" to refer to King's references to his own death - especially his references to how he would be eulogized at his own funeral. By speaking in this way, King attempted to master death - to remove some of its sting - and thereby to find the strength to press on. Dyson also discusses King's depression, and frankly deals with the way he handled it - via alcohol and women. These only added guilt to the already overwhelming psychic burden that King carried. Indeed, the sense of humility and personal inadequacy made King a far different person than those who came after him.

I was most interested in the second focal point in the nook - King's preaching against economic, military and political oppression. King was the most prophetic on these issues, finding fault with an America he considered one of the most violent nations on earth.
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Format: Hardcover
I was eager to read Mr. Dyson's book with the hope to gain further insight into Dr King's legacy and last days. In the opening chapter, a riveting scene is drawn of Dyson's father as the news of Dr King's death came over the airwaves. One can feel the air being sucked from their lungs as if being caught off guard with a punch. Mr. Dyson's prose puts you there in the moment.

That was perhaps the high point of his writing. I found his use of of the term "automortology" to be overly repetitive and found myself at times saying out loud, "I get it". This was annopying at times, but easy to overlook. Although he did offer much insight into King's mindset at the end of his days, it was his treatment of the successors that left me feeling cheated.

How he could make the arguments for Jesse Jackson by making unfounded accusations against Hosea Williams and Dr Abernathy made me sick. As a resident of Atlanta, I had the privilege of seeing Uncle Hosie ,a giant in the movement for civil rights, live out his final days. Always serving, always giving, always fighting for those without a voice. Hosea Williams was an honorable man and the accusation that his rage at Jackson's lying was fueled by jealousy is disgusting. His rage was at the lies being told by Jackson moments after his leader and friend had been murdered.

Let's compare the integrity of Hosea Williams to that of Jesse Jackson. Hosea Williams followed Dr King's lead and lived a life that fought for the underserved regardless of his personal interest. Jesse Jackson uses every opportunity for personal enrichment. The use of donations to his Rainbow Coalition to fund hush money for his mistress and his child born to her is well documented.

Which one has integrity? If Mr.
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