By: Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’m not sure why I’ve never heard of Why We Can’t Wait before.
Or that Martin Luther King, Jr. even wrote a book. (He has multiple, by the way.)
Any person who’s ever been taught or heard about King’s “I Have a Dream” speech knows that the man was a master of rhetoric. So it’s fair to assume that he’s a good author.
And he is. Obviously, this book doesn’t have the power of oration. It doesn’t make you want to stand up and fight right here and right now. In fact, this book almost reads like a history book.
It’s a nonfictional account of the year 1963, the year that things really blew up (figuratively and literally) in the Civil Rights Movement. It discusses the theory of nonviolent protest, Project C, Bull Connor, and the March on Washington, to name a few of the hot button items of the year.
And it’s a nonfictional account from the eyes of one of the most important leaders of that movement. King more than holds his own as an author, so it’s an enjoyable nonfictional account at that. The language is easy to read and easy to understand.
If you’re at all interested in the Civil Rights Movement, or if you’re a citizen of the United States who wants to know more about our history than the whitewashed paragraphs taught in schools, then you should read this book. You’ll learn things you never knew about the Civil Rights, and from a very human perspective at that. This book shows how MLK is more than a boulevard or a holiday.
This isn’t a biography, though. It’s not an account of King’s life. If that’s what you want, check out his autobiography. This is an account of a movement. Of people coming together to stand up for themselves. Of the hopes and goals and dreams of their leaders. And of their resilience and determination.
In the afterword to the edition that I read, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. spoke about the book this way:
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.
The book is an important glimpse into a movement and a man and all that he stood for. Educate yourself. Pick it up; give it a read. And make yourself a better citizen, a citizen better equipped to vote, to protest, to stand up for the injustices that are still prevalent in our society.
And hear it all from one of the greatest voices of the last century: Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.
If you enjoyed Why We Can’t Wait, check out these books:
(for Civil Rights themes)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
Blues for Mister Charlie by James Baldwin
Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
The King Years by Taylor Branch
(for other books by King)
Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Trumpet of Conscience by Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Meridian by Alice Walker