January 21, 2013: Three Great Books To Read for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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Three Great Books To Read for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Benjamin Todd Jealous

Posted: January 21, 2013, 7:12 AM

This year Martin Luther King Jr. Day coincides with the second Inauguration of President Barack Obama. Destiny or not, this moment offers a  chance to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and talk with our families about the distance we Americans have all traveled together towards the dream of finally being the country described in our Pledge of Allegiance: One Nation, under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.

This year, to aid with reflection on this MLK Holiday and in the days beyond, I am recommending three books–two for adults, and one for younger readers:

The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement by Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster, 2013): Taylor Branch has cemented his place in sharing the historical narrative of our times with books like “The Clinton Tapes,” “The Cartel,” and “The King Era.” With his latest installment, “The King Years,” Branch identifies essential moments in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. This history provides a comprehensive and captivating account of one of the most pivotal periods in the African American fight for equality.

Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism by Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline T. Haskell (Potomac Books Inc. February, 2013): Does racism against people of color hurt white Americans? My mother and a fellow family therapist edited this anthology of 52 white Americans’ stories of how racism impacted them as adults and children.  “Combined Destinies” is a worthy read for teachers, students, counselors, and anyone interested in healing our nation’s oldest wounds.  It includes a forward by Julian Bond and his wife Pam Horowitz, as well as a guide to facilitate conversation and reflection.

 I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson(Random House Children’s Books. 2012): There are no others speeches more poignant and iconic than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech made during the 1963 March on Washington. Kadir Nelson’s paintings take readers across generations through inspirational imagery and words of Dr. Martin Luther King. Fifty years later, the words of equality and peace spoken at the Lincoln Memorial will resonate with adults and children and inspire all of us to overcome the epic struggles of our time.

Benjamin Todd Jealous is the President and CEO of the NAACP.

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