Resources on Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Video: MLK as a rebel and part of a movement

Excellent short overview:

King's Last March

Radio documentary from American Public Media that highlights the real, courageous, radical Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who fought for genuine racial justice, who organized for economic justice for poor people of all backgrounds, who took a stand against unjust foreign policy and the Vietnam War (calling the US government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world"), and who spoke truth to power even when it was unpopular.

Eyes on the Prize

Eyes on the Prize is an amazing documentary on the Civil Rights Movement / African-American freedom struggle. Click here to watch for free online on Kanopy. You will need a library card or college ID to login. If you don't have a library card, sign up for an online "e-card" from Boston Public Library (available to all people who live in Massachusetts) or check your local library website.

Resources from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center

This thread from the MLK Center has video clips and more highlighting Martin Luther King speaking truth to power. From the MLK Center: "A thread of #MLK speeches and sermons in which he speaks truth to power, shares about his philosophy of nonviolence, and expounds on issues of injustice and what our righteous, rigorous response should be. Relevant. Revelatory. Revolutionary. #MLKDay #BelovedCommunity

At the River I Stand

Preview of the film At the River I Stand, a documentary about the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike and the involvement of Dr. Martin Luther King. The full movie can be viewed here. The film brings into focus some key issues confronted by Dr. King and the movement in the late 1960s, in particular the move to bring together the struggles for racial and economic justice.

Speeches from Martin Luther King in 1967

"Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence" (text and audio, address delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City)
The Three Evils of Society (address Delivered at the National Conference on New Politics, August 31, 1967)

Hidden in Plain Sight: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Radical Vision

This lesson plan includes some excellent resources. "Lesson to introduce students to the speeches and work of Dr. King beyond I have a dream."

A Testament of Hope (1969)

Text of "A Testament of Hope". Excerpt:

the black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws – racism, poverty, militarism and materialism. It is exposing evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced. It is time that we stopped our blithe lip service to the guarantees of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. These fine sentiments are embodied in the Declaration of Independence, but that document was always a declaration of intent rather than reality. There were slaves when it was written; there were still slaves when it was adopted; and to this day, black Americans have not life, liberty nor the privilege of pursuing happiness, and millions of poor white Americans are in economic bondage that is scarcely less oppressive. Americans who genuinely treasure our national ideals, who know they are still elusive dreams for all too many, should welcome the stirring of Negro demands. They are shattering the complacency that allowed a multitude of social evils to accumulate. Negro agitation is requiring America to re-examine its comforting myths and may yet catalyze the drastic reforms that will save us from social catastrophe.

Civil Rights Movement songs/lyrics

Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1966
Lyrics of the Freedom Songs
Movement Soul - Sounds of the Freedom Movement in the South, 1963-1964

Quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth?..." Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue... [so] it can no longer be ignored... there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]"

2. “I’m talking about poor people’s power. That is what is needed.” — MLK (1968) (from "58 Tweetable MLK Quotes")

3. “There must be more than a statement to the larger society; there must be a force that interrupts its functioning at some key point.” — MLK (from "58 Tweetable MLK Quotes")

4. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God...
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]"

5. has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]"

6. ... we see the need for... the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]"

7. "It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard."
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. March 1968.

8. “However difficult it is to hear, however shocking it is to hear, we’ve got to face the fact that America is a racist country.” — MLK (1968) (from "58 Tweetable MLK Quotes")

9. “The nation doesn’t move around questions of genuine equality for the poor and for black people until it is confronted massively, dramatically in terms of direct action.” — MLK (from "58 Tweetable MLK Quotes")

10. “I choose to identify with the poor…. This is the way I’m going. If it means suffering a little bit, I’m going that way.” — MLK (1966)

11. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Martin Luther King, Jr. Harper & Brothers, 1958

12. “The black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes… It is, rather, forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws: racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism.” — MLK (1968) (from "58 Tweetable MLK Quotes")

13. we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values... we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 4 April 1967, "Beyond Vietnam."

14. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see than an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 4 April 1967, "Beyond Vietnam."

15. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. 4 April 1967, "Beyond Vietnam."

16. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Martin Luther King, Jr. 4 April 1967, "Beyond Vietnam."

17. "The dispossessed of this nation – the poor, both white and Negro – live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against that injustice, not against the lives of … their fellow citizens, but against the structures which the society is refusing to take means … to lift the load of poverty…"
- "Hidden in Plain Sight: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Radical Vision"

The real Rosa Parks story

How Change Happens: The Real Story of Mrs. Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott