Black History Month: Stride Toward Freedom

It’s still Black History Month here in the UK. Last year we featured here on our blog four recommended books – read our two blog posts for Black History Month 2012 here and here. This year we’ll give you a more in-depth look at each of these four books.

In the spotlight last week we featured Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, the diary of a white man who travelled through the Deep South of the 1950s disguised as a black man. Read last week’s Black History Month blog here.

This week, take a look at Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr. Described by ‘Black History Live’ as “telling the inspiring story of the Civil Rights movement… A very important and moving book which tells the story of the movement that transported and changed not only America but globally”, it is published as part of our Independent Voices series, highlighting its continued cultural importance.

This is Martin Luther King Jr’s account, in his own words, of the origins of the Civil Rights movement in America which culminated in his 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

It starts with a story we all know: on December 1st 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. What follows is the unique story of King’s involvement of the budding Civil Rights movement, right from the start. With King at the head, the black community of Montgomery organised a year-long boycott of the bus service: the first large-scale, non-violent protest against racial segregation of its kind in America.

“This book is an account of a few years that changed the life of a Southern community, told from the point of view of the participants… it is the chronicle of 50,000 Negroes who took to heart the principles of non-violence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their human worth.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Preface to Stride Toward Freedom

At the time of the Montgomery bus boycott King was only 26 years old. Within a year he was a national figure and a leader of the Civil Rights movement. Nine years later, in 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And only four years later than that, he was assassinated, on April 4th 1968, aged only 39.

What better way to celebrate Black History Month than to look back at where it all began, sowing the seeds that would grow into the Civil Rights Movement in America?

Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King, Jr. is a thought-provoking read, a doorway into history, perfect for Black History Month.

Visit the Black History Month website.

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