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, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York & Boston: Warner Books, 2006). Note from Coretta Scott King, dated Sept. 1998 (iv). Editor’s Preface. Author saw King’s “I have a Dream” speech “as a 19-year-old college student attending my first civil rights demonstration” (vii). Later invited by Coretta Scott King to edit MLK’s papers. “This project is the culmination of my career as a documentary editor” (vii). It consists of “published autobiographical writings,” “passages from hundreds of documents and recordings,” “many statements that were not intended for publication or even intended as autobiography,” and “editorial changes . . . to construct a narrative that is readable and comprehensible” (viii). “This narrative understates the importance in King’s life of his family” (viii). “The comprehensiveness of this narrative implies that King wrote it, with considerable editorial and research assistance, at the very end of his life” (x). Editorial changes include condensation, change of tenses, addition of words or phrases to clarify time, location, or name, addition of conjunctions, replacement of pronouns with nouns and vice versa, regularization of spelling, and modification of punctuation and syntax (xi). Ch. 1: Early Years. Birth in Atlanta, Auburn St., on Jan. 15, 1929 (2). “Extraordinarily healthy” (2). Loving family (2-3). Mother, Alberta Williams King (3-4). Father, Martin Luther King Sr. (4-5). “Comfortable” first 25 years (5). Church (6). Childhood resentment of and anger about segregation (7-12). Ch. 2: Morehouse College. 19441948, B.A. in sociology; graduated at age 19; importance of Thoreau; felt “an inner urge calling me to serve society” (13-16). Ch. 3: Crozer Seminary. In Chester, PA, began “serious intellectual quest for a method to eliminate social evil”; bachelor of divinity degree in 1951; Walter Rauschenbusch’s Christianity and the Social Crisis; preaching must be based on experience; “truth is found neither in Marxism nor in traditional capitalism”; exposure to pacifism (lecture by A.J. Muste) and Gandhi (sermon by Mordecai Johnson); read Reinhold Niebuhr; evolved a “realistic pacifism” as “the lesser evil in the circumstances” (27); decision to attend Boston Univ. (1729). Ch. 4: Boston University. Edgar Brightman and L. Harold DeWolf as teachers; “personalistic philosophy . . . personal idealism remains today my basic philosophical position”; study of Hegel; dissertation; doctorate in systematic theology in June 1955 (3034). Ch. 5: Coretta. Coretta Scott studied singing at the New England Conservatory of Music; MLK decided he wanted to marry her “after an hour”: “We ought to get married someday” (35); they marry in June 1953 (34-39). Ch. 6: Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Torn between teaching and pastoral work, accepts call to Dexter’s pastorate in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954; joined NAACP and “insisted every church member become a registered voter and a member of the NAACP and organized within the church a social and political action committee” (47); first child, Yolanda (40-49).
Ch. 7: Montgomery Movement Begins. When Montgomery bus boycott begins, King is elected president of the Negro Citizens’ Committee; gives “most decisive speech of my life” (50-62). Ch. 8: The Violence of Desperate Men. Nonviolence embraced; “I came to see that no one gives up his privileges without strong resistance” (70); house is bombed; decides to do without weapons (63-82). Ch. 9: Desegregation at Last. King convicted of leading illegal boycott; faces down intimidation; Supreme Court rules against bus segregation laws; after 12months, buses desegregated and boycott called off (84-99). Ch. 10: The Expanding Struggle. Heads Southern Leaders Conference; cover of Time in Feb. 1957; applauds Little Rock; meets with Eisenhower (10010). Ch. 11: Birth of a New Nation. Visits Gold Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria; meets Kwame Nkrumah (111-16). Ch. 12: Brush with Death. Stabbed by demented black woman in Harlem on Sept. 20, 1958, while signing Stride toward Freedom (117-20). Ch. 13: Pilgrimage to Nonviolence. Visits India, Feb.-Mar. 1959 (121-34). Ch. 14: The Sit-In Movement. Moves to Atlanta. Sit-in movement frustrates plan to create more time for reflection; acquitted by all-white jury in Montgomery of charges of perjury and tax evasion (136-43). Ch. 15: Atlanta Arrest and Presidential Politics. Meets with John F. Kennedy on June 23, 1960; Kennedy comes to his assistance during Atlanta sit-in campaign (143-50).
Ch. 16: The Albany Movement. Albany, GA, movement (1961-62) against segregated facilities wins “partial victory” (151-69). Ch. 17: The Birmingham Campaign. Challenge to Birmingham segregation laws leads to imprisonment in April 1963; JFK calls Coretta (170-86). Ch. 18: Letter from Birmingham Jail. Apr. 16, 1963: King’s response to letter from white Birmingham ministers calling for an end to demonstrations: “Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive” (195) (187-204). Ch. 19: Freedom Now! King released on bond Apr. 20, 1963; police violence; bombing; U.S. marshals; agreement reached (205-17). Ch. 20: March on Washington. Kennedy’s civil rights proposal; Medgar Evers assassinated; the last half of the “I Have a Dream” speech improvised (21828). Ch. 21: Death of Illusions. Eulogy on Sept. 18 for four girls killed in the bombing of Sixteenth St. Baptist Church in Birmingham, Sept. 15, 1963; visit to JFK; Kennedy assassination (229-38). Ch. 22: St. Augustine. St. Augustine, FL, campaign leads to King’s arrest; Why We Can’t Wait published; attends Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“This legislation was first written in the streets” ) signing (239-45). Ch. 23: The Mississippi Challenge. Denounces racism of 1964 Republican campaign; Freedom Summer campaign in Mississippi; challenge to Mississippi delegation at Democratic Convention in Atlantic City (246-54).
Ch. 24: The Nobel Peace Prize. After award, “I found myself thinking more and more about . . . poverty” (262); says “I must return to the valley” at Jan. 27, 1965, dinner in Atlanta (255-64). Ch. 25: Malcolm X. A “victim of . . . despair” 266) and a “product of . . . hate and violence” (267); call for nonviolence (265-69). Ch. 26: Selma. Analysis of “the voting problem”; Selma as expression of ecumenical movement (270-89) Ch. 27: Watts. Visits Watts days after widespread Aug. 1965 rioting; “Violence only serves to harden the resistance of the white reactionary and relieve the white liberal of guilt (294); (290-96). Ch. 28: Chicago Campaign. Chicago campaign and the “Northern urban race problem” (298); the slum of Lawndale (299-301); experience of being booed (302-03); nonviolence in the North (30305); demonstration for open housing (305-09); on “Negro anti-Semitism” (30910); in Chicago, “hard realities of a social system in many ways more resistant to change than the rural South” (312).
Ch. 29: Black Power. James Meredith shot, Jun. 6, 1966; increasing bitterness expressed (316-19); “reservations” about Black Power slogan, which is “nihilistic,” “a cry of disappointment” (320-32). Ch. 30: Beyond Vietnam. After vacillations, an inner compulsion to speak against the war; aftermath of speech was “a low period in my life” (333-45). Ch. 31: The Poor People’s Campaign. Campaign to focus on “the economic question” (350); Memphis (351-55). Ch. 32: Unfulfilled Dreams. Final address at Bishop Charles J. Mason Temple in Memphis, Apr. 3, 1968 (35666). Editor’s Acknowledgments. Book the result of discussions with the King family (367). Produced in one year (368). Source Notes. 29 archival collections. 18 pp. chapter notes. Index. 10 pp.