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I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition (Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929) Paperback – April 29, 2003
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Washington includes King's most important texts: the "Letter from Birmingham Jail"; the "I Have a Dream" speech; his Nobel Prize acceptance speech; "My Trip to the Land of Gandhi"; "A Time to Break Silence," his 1967 speech criticizing the United States war in Vietnam, and more. These writings and speeches cover King's great themes: nonviolent resistance, the African-American civil rights movement, etc.
Those seeking a more comprehensive collection of Kings' work should seek out "A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr." also edited by James M. Washington. At more than 700 pages, this is a truly monumental collection, and includes much material not found in "I Have a Dream": the 1965 "Playboy" interview, transcripts of television interviews, and more. But for those who want a shorter text that cuts to the heart of King's life and work, "I Have a Dream" is perfect.
"I Have a Dream" reveals King to be a true Christian prophet, and a man with a global vision. As literature, these texts also show King to be the heir of such American thinkers as Henry David Thoreau and W.E.B. DuBois. Highly recommended.
Although the book is not a complete compendium of all of his writings and speeches, it does contain an excellent representative sample of the wide scope of his ideas and works – not just on Civil Rights per se, but also on the Viet Nam War, domestic and international politics, the economy, and human behavior; almost all of which is as accurate and applicable today as it was 50 years ago.
Why then, only four stars? Because there was one thing about the book that was a little unsettling to me. In the "I Have a Dream" speech, which I read in the book along with watching a video of the speech itself, I found some discrepancies between what was written in the text of the book and the words MLK, Jr. actually spoke. These were relatively minor, but included an omitted sentence, a couple of omitted phrases, a substituted adjective, and a pair of reversed words. Whether or not there are similar discrepancies elsewhere in the book I don't know (and maybe these are just differences between written speech notes and what he actually said), but I would expect the editing of a book like this to ensure a perfect match between what was said in a speech and what is written in the book, especially for something as seminal as the “I Have a Dream” speech. This is not a reason not to buy the book, but it would be enough to make me want to verify any direct quotes from the book in cases where 100% accuracy is essential.
The 256 pages that is "I Have A Dream" was enough to highlight the wickedness and the violence that were deliberately sustained in America, for a full century, after a bloody Civil War ended her tenacity on slavery.
One question that will always beg for answer is: How on earth did U.S. Presidents who presided over the ruthless color-bar era qualified for those Nobel Peace Prizes that they received? Knowing what life was like in the U.S.A. just a couple of decades ago melts my heart. "I Have A Dream" is a big eye-opener!