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Preparing for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

As they have done with many other American holidays, our friends at What So Proudly We Hail have another ebook out to help us fully appreciate and properly commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which we will observe this coming Monday, January 21.  (King’s actual birthday, which the holiday celebrates, was yesterday, January 15, 1929.)

In their latest holiday ebook, “The Meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day,” editors Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass reflect on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement he helped lead, providing stories, speeches, and songs to help readers consider and evaluate the movement’s efforts to overcome racial discrimination.

The editors explain the course of the book:

The first chapter explores the origins and traditions of the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration, with particular attention to the American character of the holiday. The second chapter presents powerful accounts of the black American experience during the era of racial segregation, from Booker T. Washington,  W. E. B. Du Bois, and Zora Neale Hurston, to Langston HughesRalph Ellison, and James Baldwin, with a focus on showing the need for civil rights. The third chapter brings us to the Civil Rights Movement itself, evaluating the goals, strategies, and tactics of the Movement’s various leaders. The final chapter raises questions about the challenging and vexed issues left open in the wake of the successes of the Civil Rights Movement: equality; family, religion, and culture; and identity.

Each selection includes a brief introduction by the editors with guiding questions for discussion.

The book, then, is not simply about King in particular, but rather it places King’s contributions in the context of the whole Civil Rights Movement, leading to a much richer discussion and appreciation of and for King’s life and legacy.

Finally, of particular interest to this collection is a never-before-published letter by coeditor Leon R. Kass about his and his wife Amy’s experience working with civil rights activists in Mississippi during the summer of 1965.

Check out the entire ebook, which is available completely free of charge, over at What So Proudly We Hail.