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Why We Can't Wait Hardcover – March 1, 1964


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; First Edition edition (March 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060123958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060123956
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,625,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“No child should graduate from high school without having read this book. In telling the story of the third American Revolution, it is as integral to American history as the Declaration of Independence.”—Jesse Jackson --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was among the twentieth century’s most influential figures. One of the greatest orators in U.S. history, King is the author of several books, including Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story(Beacon / 0069-4 / $14.00 pb), Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (Beacon / 0067-0 / $14.00 pb), and The Trumpet of Conscience (Beacon / 0071-7 / $22.00 hc). His speeches, sermons, and writings are inspirational and timeless. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. 

Dorothy Cotton was the education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and worked closely with Dr. King on teaching nonviolence and citizenship education.
 
Clayborne Carson, general editorial advisor to the King Legacy, is the founding director of the King Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Need help understanding what's going on around you, read this book.
letty
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote most of this book was written along with a "Letter from Birmingham Jail" King wrote in April of 1963.
Kelsey
This book should be required reading for American history classes in every middle school in the nation.
Wanda Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 113 people found the following review helpful By N. Long on October 20, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I chose to read this book originally as part of a high school assignment, and am very glad that I did so. As a white male born in 1980 who grew up in a predominately white area, I had a hard time understanding why race seems to be such a big issue in this country. As I saw it, slavery happened a long time ago and bigots were idiots to be ignored until they all died off. Why all this talk of discrimination and affirmative action? Why all the pleas for acceptance and peace?
This book came as a slap to the face of my preconceived notions. I realized suddenly that many of the men and women I see every day lived during that time, only a few decades ago, when white people didn't let black people drink from the same water fountains, and when blacks could be beaten and abused in the streets for daring to ask for equal treatment. I had heard of this before, but it had always seemed in the distant past. I was repeatedly astonished that such things could have happened in America.
My views took a new spin. Suddenly, King's arguments for affirmative action sounded reasonable. How could a black man "pull himself up by his bootstraps" if he has no shoes? How could the children of poor blacks in the south go to college, even if they were allowed to, when their parents couldn't afford the tuition? While I still do not like the idea of racial discrimination of any kind, I now see that there is reason to try to tip the scales back a little, at least for a generation or two.
Above all, I was surprised at how Godly a man King was.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Sean S. Varney on April 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dr. King's "Why We Can't Wait" is a remarkable book. The chapter containing the famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is one of the great political, religious and social works humanity has ever produced. If you read nothing else about the civil rights movement, or about Martin Luther King, this letter will show you why it was the right thing to do, why he won a Nobel Peace Prize, and why America (and the world) is a better place because King lived.
Every American should read two documents: The Constitution and "The Letter from Birmingham Jail."
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on June 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I often wonder why we honor Martin Luther King with a holiday. For those who wonder why, read this book. In this book, King uses non violent techniques to force a change in the structure of race relations in this brutal city. The sixties could have been such a violent time in America had it not been for Dr. King.
With his techniques, he changed the social landscape in the deep South for the better. Why we can't wait is his reason why blacks should not tolerate a gradual change in race relations, but one that recognizes that change is needed as soon as possible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rodog63jr on October 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dr. King in this book, gives the background on the successful demonstrations in Birmingham and The 1963 March on Washington. (My father was at that march). Martin gives the insights on his Non -violent Direct Action approach and how it worked in Birmingham. He also explains what he meant in his I have a dream speech. Those who read this book will see that Dr. King favored a approach to bring African-Americans in the Mainstream that is similiar to Affirmative Action. Dr. King's mistakes were he assumed the whites in the North would favor his approach when he came to their neighborhood (Chicago 1966)and that those who favored ending segregation would support spending government money to help poor Blacks. All Americans should read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "darwin02" on February 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
At first, I read this book for an AP U.S. History Class. After reading it, though, I felt the need to read it again, and a third time. You can't really get the true spirit and deep meaning behind the book after reading it only once. This work is one of the most powerful I have ever read, and the movement that inspired it is one of the most interesting in the History of the United States. Consider it your civil duty to absorb this timeless piece of Dr. Martin Luther King's fight for freedom. You will not regret it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What can I say that the other reviews haven't already said? This is a must-have for anyone interested in the major issue that has consumed our country and most of the world for so long. Well-written, well-researched, and well. . . just a plain good read. Highly recommended.
Also recommended: The Color Purple, Bark of the Dogwood, End of Blackness
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter Furst on December 25, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fantastic work by Martin Luther King Jr discussing the 1963 situation in Birmingham, Alabama, where King and others took a big step towards bringing down racism.
King's words and ideas are truly provocing, and should be read by all - they are not just applicable to the situation in 1963, but also to our lives today.
If everybody read this book and listened to its message, the world would be a better place.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Vincent D. Pisano on November 8, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his account of the Birmingham campaign, which sought to dissolve the Jim Crow status quo. From the outset of his campaign, however, tensions were present not only within the black communities, but also with whites who supported their cause. When he began to plan his strategy for nonviolent demonstrations he found that "there was tremendous resistance to [their] program from some of the Negro ministers, businessmen, and professionals in the city" (King 52). King concluded that there were several explanations for these "tensions," including that blacks "had been skillfully brainwashed to the point where he had accepted the white man's theory that he... was inferior" (King 52). Many also accused King's actions as being ill timed. The infamously racist "Bull" Conner had just lost the mayoral election and many felt that King should give the new administration a chance before demonstrating. King would pass this off as "false-optimism," and perhaps rightly so (King 53). Many also saw King as an outsider, but he combated that notion by arguing that because he was an American and there was injustice in Birmingham, there was no such thing as an outsider, and that he had descended on Birmingham with the request of an affiliated organization to help release the local black population from oppression.

King knew that if he was to succeed he would need a united community and at one point he shows true optimism at accomplishing this unity. "Somehow God gave me the power," he writes, "to transform the resentments, the suspicions, the fears and the misunderstandings I found... into faith and enthusiasm" (King 55).
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