“I Have A Dream” – Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

So today is the 3rd Monday in January, a.k.a. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Since 2nd November 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed a bill for the national holiday, Americans have celebrated a day designed to remember and celebrate the values promoted by the famous civil rights leader.

This year is particularly special – not least because Ava DuVernay’s Selma is released, but also because it is 50 years since MLK Jr. led his historic march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

Celebrations to mark the occasion began yesterday, with some of Selma’s stars, including David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey, marching with hundreds of others as a tribute to the original march.

Elsewhere, US channel MTV will air in black and white for twelve hours and President Barack Obama will attend a community service project in Washington D.C.

Souvenir Press publishes MLK Jr.’s ‘Stride Toward Freedom’ and John Howard Griffin’s ‘Black Like Me’ – both part of our Independent Voices Series.

Stride Toward Freedom2black-like-me1

“In 1959, a white American decided to turn himself into a ‘Negro’…John Howard Griffin would venture alone into some of the Deep South’s most virulently racist hotspots and experience life on the other side of the tracks…Black Like Me brilliantly reveals the dehumanisation of black people by the white majority…This reissued edition will introduce a whole new British readership to a work that is still an important, illuminating and fascinating read.”
Bernardine Evaristo, ‘The Times’

And if you haven’t already seen it, catch the Selma trailer here.


Stride Toward Freedom

Published for the first time in Britain as part of Souvenir Press’s Independent Voices series Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story is Dr Martin Luther King’s gripping account of the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955/6, the first mortal blow to segregation in the Deep South, and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.

When the history books are written in future, somebody will have to say, “There lived a race of people—a black people—a people who had the courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected a new meaning into the veins of history and of civilization.”

Martin Luther King Jr
Montgomery’s Holt Street Baptist church, Dec 5th 1955

Stride Toward Freedom2

At the time King was only 26 years old and the pastor of a Baptist church, within a year he was a national figure and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

“While the nature of this account causes me to make frequent use of the pronoun ‘I’ in every important part of the story it should be ‘we’.”

And it was Rosa Parks’ arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws, that made the first cut into this oppressive knot.

She refused, King says, because she was “anchored to her seat by accumulated indignities of days gone by and…She was a victim of both the forces of history and the forces of destiny. She had been tracked down by the zeitgeist.”

King’s book, masterfully records the boycott as it grew, from meeting rooms and church assemblies, and even the Bricklayers Union, until 50,000 African Americans chose to walk to work, sometimes over 12 miles, for a year, in a non-violent protest that drew continual violence from its opponents.

But whether describing the bombing of his own house, or that of four churches, King’s faith shines through, not as a balm, but as an argument:

‘”A mass movement of a militant quality that is not at the same time committed to non-violence tends to generate conflict, which in turns breeds anarchy.”

Happy Birthday Dr King.



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.


Happy First Birthday: Take Home a Souvenir

That’s right! Exactly a year ago today Souvenir Press published its very first blog post. And look how we’ve grown since then. Join us in a trip down memory lane as we count down the five most popular blog posts of the last year – were there any you missed?

What would you like to see more of in the coming year on the Souvenir Press blog? Let us know in the comments below.

5) Chinese New Year: The Year of the Snake

Featuring predictions from the definitive book on Chinese astrology, THE HANDBOOK OF CHINESE HOROSCOPES, seventh edition, by Theodora Lau and Laura Lau. The book contains predictions that will take you right through to 2014. Find out what the rest of the Year of the Snake has in store for you. (Read more…)

4) Happy Birthday to Martin Luther King, Jr.

From January this year, celebrating what would have been the 84th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, leader of the Black Civil Rights movement in America. His book STRIDE TOWARD FREEDOM, published as part of the Independent Voices series by Souvenir Press, was described by King as  “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 own human worth.” (Read more…)

3) Bum Fodder: An Absorbing History of Toilet Paper

Did you miss the official publication day for BUM FODDER by Richard Smyth? Find out  how loo roll was used in espionage, how it relates to corn on the cob, and what mussels have got to do with it. Richard Smyth answers the questions you never thought to ask about the product we can’t live without. (Read more…)

=1) Telling Tales in Latin: A Review

Stephen Addis, a retired Classics teacher with 36 years’ experience of teaching Classics in state and independent schools, reviews TELLING TALES IN LATIN by Lorna Robinson.
“A new and exciting Latin course… It is one of the best Latin course books currently available and will undoubtedly prove to be a great success, particularly with younger children.” (Read more…)

=1) The Book by Alan Watts

Appearing on Desert Island Discs last November, John Lloyd (writer and television producer, best known for his work on Blackadder and QI) chose THE BOOK: ON THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING WHO YOU ARE by Alan Watts as the book he would take with him to a desert island. He described it as: “The best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about.” (Read more…)

WIN one of three copies of Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘Stride Toward Freedom’

On this day in 1963 Martin Luther King Jr delivered his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the culmination of the American Civil Rights movement that transformed a nation:

I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Martin Luther King Jr’s involvement in the American Civil Rights movement is documented in his own words, sharing his own stories and experiences, in his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s most famous speech, we are giving away three copies of Stride Toward Freedom.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply fill in the form below, telling us when it was that Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous speech*. Competition closes at 9am (UK time) on 2nd September 2013.


*Winners will be picked at random. One entry per person.

‘I Have a Dream’ – 50 years on

Tomorrow, 28th August, marks 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in Washington DC in 1963.

A defining moment in the American Civil Rights movement, the fiftieth anniversary of this speech is being celebrated in the national and international media. BBC Radio 4 will mark the anniversary with a broadcast of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech with a recital by Martin Luther King Jr and notable figures, including the Dalai Lama, Doreen Lawrence, US Congressman John Lewis and Nobel laureate John Hume.

TIME magazine’s current issue is a special commemorative issue, with nearly 80 pages dedicated to celebrating the speech and its continuing impact today. Maya Angelou and Malala Yousafzai are among those who have contributed to TIME’s article, ‘What King’s Words Mean To Me’.

The Observer was one of the earliest media outlets to pick up the story here in the UK, running a special commemorative supplement on 11th August.

And here at Souvenir, we publish Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, which is Martin Luther King, Jr’s account in his own words of the origins of the American Civil Rights movement which culminated in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in 1963. Detailing King’s own experiences and stories, Stride Toward Freedom documents the beginning of a national Civil Rights movement based on King’s principles, and cemented King’s position at the head of this movement.

This most important book, telling King’s story and detailing the origins of the American Civil Rights movement in his own words, is available in paperback and ebook.

Why not celebrate 50 years of ‘I Have a Dream’ with Stride Toward Freedom and Souvenir Press?

“It’s still shocking to read this account, detailing the overt racism of the time… King, of course, was one of the finest orators of the 20th century, but passion pours from his pen, too.” – ‘The Crack’

“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.” – ‘Black History Live’


Related blog posts:
Black History Month (part 1)
Black History Month (part 2)
Happy Birthday to Martin Luther King Jr

August news from Souvenir Press

Our August newsletter went out to all our e-newsletter subscribers yesterday, but if you’ve not signed up yet, fear not! You can now view our August newsletter online. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, find out about an exciting summer e-book offer, and discover the latest news from some of our authors.

August newsletterYou can also read the back issues of the Souvenir Press newsletter here.

Want to sign up so you get the newsletter straight to your inbox next month? No problem – you can sign up here.