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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 (92 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
113 of 116 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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Why we protest in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. 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
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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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An important piece of history 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless & Revelent !
The writings are timeless ! So revelant to
America in 2014. Shared with my high school students they were astonished by connection of history repeats it's self. Read more
Published 19 hours ago by Perhaps
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
It saddens me to say this but until I read this book, Dr. King was a man I had little knowledge about. I knew he was an important figure in American history. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great writing by one of America's historical figure.
Published 2 months ago by Fitzroy Tonge
5.0 out of 5 stars King A+
Oh my I loved this book! Everyone should read and read again!
Published 3 months ago by Jody Winko
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Thought provoking
Excellent book. Thought provoking. I purchased for a class and learned a lot about the Civil Rights movement and how it got started.
Published 3 months ago by Josephine Salas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read!
Published 3 months ago by Rachel Tingle
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Must Read
Published 4 months ago by Jennifer Tanner
I love learning about history in this period of time. It was a time of excitement, sorrowing, and joy. What a example for every American Mr. King can be for us. Read more
Published 5 months ago by mimi
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely Even Today
I was high school senior in 1964. This book helped me to put all of the history into its proper perspective. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Thad R. Edmonds
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I ordered a few copies of this book for my child's and her classmates. The books came quickly and were in perfect condition.
Published 7 months ago by Nechama Eilfort
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