Friday, October 03, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: "Why We Can't Wait" by Martin Luther King, Jr.

I read Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Why We Can't Wait" on the recommendation of my friend Josee. We were walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago earlier this summer talking politics and what not and she dropped this title. I kept thinking about the title for a few weeks; she eventually let me borrow her copy (otherwise, I might still be thinking about it).

It's a short read. The book really picked up at the height of the non-violent movement in Birmingham in 1963. That's the focus of the book. King's perspective on how thing's went down and how that movement was a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.

I must admit that it's always difficult for me to read about racial hatred especially when details are laid out. King did not elaborate much on the beatings or killings from this time period. However, it is humbling to read about the courageousness of those who participated in this historical movement and the numerous sacrifices that they made.

It also got me to thinking about my family. Both of my mother's parents are from Birmingham. I can only imagine what life was like back then. When I hear about Bull Connor, I just wonder how someone could be that mean spirited. I've been meaning to ask my grandmother about growing up in the South. She has never/rarely spoken about her childhood. But I guess if I want to know then I'd better get to asking; she's not getting any younger, but she is getting more ornery.

Interesting too that I read this book just prior to the 2008 General Election. The things that people endured just so I could have the right to vote is incredible. I've never been the one to take for granted that I have a right to vote; I've been voting since college (though I may have missed an election or two due to moving around). Nor do I take advantage of the fact that I can walk into any restaurant anywhere and buy anything I want (if I can afford it). But I think that some young people do take that for granted. They don't know or care about the struggle of those who came before them and made many of today's amenities a part of our daily lives.

I had read King's Letter from Birmingham Jail sometime ago and it is included in this book. Amazing how some of his points still ring true for today's society.

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At 10:30 AM, Blogger Josee Valcourt said...

Radio Girl, I'm glad you enjoyed the book. King definitely laid out detailed explanations why he thought nonviolence was the best way to fight oppression. His arguments against Dubois' talented tenth, Garvey's back to Africa movement, and the Nation of Islam's separatist views are air tight. As for voting, the comment regarding blacks aloofness to election sadly rings true even today. King should not only be celebrated, but studied. He was a philosopher and sociologist. This book should be mandatory reading in U.S. schools. OK, getting off my soap box.

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Lori said...

One of the best things I ever did was sit down with my grandmother and record her memories. I actually did this for several weeks in a row and managed to make a number of recordings, which I latter used for my genealogical research.

My grandmother was a talker and a wonderful story-teller, so she got a big kick out of the experience. She also got a thrill from hearing herself on tape (smile). One side benefit--in the years since my grandmother's passing, I'm still able to pull out those recordings and hear, not only her words, but her laughter. Believe me, that's priceless.


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