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Why We Can't Wait (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0451527530 ISBN-10: 0451527534

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Product Details

  • Series: Signet Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451527534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451527530
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, the son and grandson of pastors. He graduated from Morehouse College and Crozer Theological Seminary, becoming at age 25 pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He subsequently earned his Ph.D. from Boston University. In 1957 he and other civil rights leaders founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization he led until his death. A proponent of Gandhian principles of non-violence, he led many protests and demonstrations for civil rights, including the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 29, 1963, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, he continued to fight for civil rights, the eradication of poverty and the end of the Vietnam War. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN.

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., is the founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, an organization committed to fighting for social, political, and economic justice for people of all races, genders, and creeds. A two-time candidate for President of the United States, Rev. Jackson has been called the “conscience of the nation.” Rev. Jackson is also renowned for his efforts around the world to spread the promise of democracy, human rights, and peace. Rev. Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, reside in Chicago and are the proud parents of five children.

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Customer Reviews

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote most of this book was written along with a "Letter from Birmingham Jail" King wrote in April of 1963.
Book has mad me more thankful for the blessings and opportunities that I have because of what Dr. King and a lot of other civil rights activists fought for.
Joseph Ryan Stephens
Great insight to the time and place of America in great turmoil, and how one man brought his people to the for front to take their place in history.
shirley chadwell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 116 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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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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