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A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches Paperback – April 29, 2003
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“This is one of those books you can pick up and begin anywhere. There is so much gold here.” (Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love)
From the Publisher
An exhaustive collection of the speeches, writings, and interviews with the Nobel Prize-winning activist.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Eerily, the words that King spoke 50 years ago still ring true today and are as easily applicable now as they were then. Essentially, a person reading A Testament of Hope is learning both about history and how to constructively navigate the ills that plague modern society. So whether you are a community activist, a church leader, an advocate for social change or a political reformer, you will find tremendous value in this book.
Readers should be aware of the amazing value that this book delivers. “Part I: Philosophy” is a collection of essays that Dr. King wrote which highlight the guiding principles that supported his core ethos of non-violent resistance. It includes essays and speeches on the common humanity of man, non-violence, social integration and political movements. Part II includes famous sermons and speeches including, “I Have a Dream.” Part III includes historic essays including, “Letter from Birmingham City Jail.” Part V includes five full-length books from Dr. King including Stride Toward Freedom and Why We Can’t Wait. The fact that the reader gets all of that for less than $20 (April 2017) is mind-boggling. In my opinion, if this collection were priced at $100 it would still be a bargain.
A Testament for Hope gave me a new breadth of imagination for the present and a new hope for the future. A must-read for anyone who believes there is a better way and that way is worth fighting for.
Also, the works are organized by general topic or philosophy, while a better way would be to group them chronologically to show how Dr. King's thinking changed, and how specific external events and responses influenced his thoughts and writings/speeches.
So even though I want to love anything about MLK Jr., this compendium could be greatly improved by reducing it to only include the *actual* essential writings and speeches, the expressions that truly synthesize and detail King's thoughts.
What I like so much about editor James Washington's collection is its comprehensiveness. In a single volume, one finds MLK's thoughts on nonviolence, civil rights and integration, the Vietnam War and poverty, Christianity and social responsibility, and justice and morality. His ideas are conveyed here through essays, sermons, interviews, and lengthy, meaty excerpts from his five books. Everything that one could want is here, including what I personally take to be his very best work: "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963), "Love, Law, and Civil Disobedience" (1961), "A Christmas Sermon on Peace" (1967), "A Time to Break Silence" (1967), the "I Have a Dream" speech (1961), and Stride Toward Freedom's masterful discussion of the tactics and principles of nonviolence (1958).
Today, four decades after his death, the country is still struggling to grow into MLK's vision of reconciliation and nonviolence. One can only imagine how sad he would be at the post-9/11 turn toward militarism the nation has taken, the current wave of sentiment against Latino immigrants, the constant economic disparity between white households and African American ones, or the upswing in hate crimes against Muslims. In re-reading A Testament of Hope, I was reminded yet again of how very much we need a present-day prophet of King's caliber, vision, and courage, and of how very grateful I am that we once had King himself.
* "And I submit that the individual who disobeys the law, whose conscience tells him it is unjust and who is willing to accept the penalty by staying in jail until that law is altered, is expressing at the moment the very highest respect for law." From "Love, Law, and Civil Disobedience," p. 49.