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Why We Can't Wait (King Legacy) [Kindle Edition]

Martin Luther King Jr.
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dr. King’s best-selling account of the civil rights movement in Birmingham during the spring and summer of 1963
In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States, but the campaign launched by Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action. 
Often applauded as King’s most incisive and eloquent book, Why We Can’t Wait recounts the Birmingham campaign in vivid detail, while underscoring why 1963 was such a crucial year for the civil rights movement. King examines the history of the civil rights struggle and the tasks that future generations must accomplish to bring about full equality. The book also includes the extraordinary “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which King wrote in April of 1963.

Editorial Reviews


“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

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.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
118 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener for my generation October 20, 1999
By N. Long
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Every American should read this April 8, 2000
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Why we protest in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. June 29, 2002
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad & Inspiring all at once! September 13, 2009
A fantastic book about a sad and yet inspiring period of American history. Martin Luther King describes, in his own words, what happened in Birmingham, AL in 1962-3, what they were trying to achieve, and why it was so imperative that the momentum continue. Relative to reading history books on the topic in class, this account gives you a true sense for how amazing and brave those who took part in this movement are. Despite the massive injustice of the period, these inspiring people, held fast to non-violent protest.

I was amazed by careful mental training that people underwent to enter into protest. MLK describes the need for these individuals to be certain that they could react to physical violence without retaliation. I consider how quick the average person is to react to the most minor of slights in today's daily life. It makes you realize that training to fight is so much easier than training not to fight.

It was intriguing how they constructed the movement, standing fast despite the laws and pressures. Leaders had multiple opportunities to "get out easily". Yet, they held fast together in solidarity. Some even met death as a function of there beliefs.

For those studying the period, this type of first hand account provides the nuance that is necessary to understand the character and moral fiber of these brave individuals.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The quintessential Civil Rights document 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Really helped me put the situation in perspective.. ...
Really helped me put the situation in perspective...I was living in Canada and didn't grasp the awful experiences of blacks as I did not live in such a segregated and hateful... Read more
Published 1 month ago by A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is a great book. I really enjoyed reading it.
Published 1 month ago by Phyllis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I used the writings of Dr MLK to instruct my students in high school American History
Published 1 month ago by Randall D Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. Martin Luther King Jr
Great read. Martin Luther King Jr. has a very straightforward writing style. Easy to read and get caught up in events.
Published 2 months ago by todd
5.0 out of 5 stars Why We Can't Wait
This book is the journey of Martin Luther King, Jr. for racial equality in America. He reports mostly what took place in Birmingham, Alabama during the year 1963.
Published 2 months ago by Cynthia Carter
4.0 out of 5 stars Why We Can't Wait
The book presented a very in depth look into a significant time in American history. Dr. King revealed interesting facts which were most likely not known to people that lived... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Van Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for All
Powerful and inspiring story! Must read!
Published 4 months ago by Scott E Ulbrich
5.0 out of 5 stars Urgency
ThIs book is totally relevant for today. Dr. King lays out a realistic and simple strategy to address race relationships in America. Read more
Published 4 months ago by INSIGHTS
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A true classic!
Published 4 months ago by joseph150
3.0 out of 5 stars Really should have looked around before donating my money...
Just go grab this at your library, or go online and grab this book.
Published 4 months ago by Kyle Wilshusen
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