Celebrating MLK Day

To celebrate the life, leadership, and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 15, I would like to recommend some contemporary reads that have allowed me to reflect on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” message and their impact then, today, and tomorrow. I encourage everyone, from all ages and backgrounds, to remember not only Dr. King’s words and courage in his fight for civil rights and justice but to allow his wisdom to inspire your own storytelling. 

The work of these writers showcases some of the progress in racial equality and community engagement and will hopefully remind and renew this purpose for more generations to come. There are patterns and connective tissue between these writers, picking up the fight against injustice where Dr. King left off. 

Check out the list below.

Ke’ara Hunt, Communications & Marketing Coordinator

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-cullors and Asha Bandele

This memoir is honest, and blunt, and will hopefully inspire you to take a look at the world around you through the lens of a Black woman living in a nation where Black lives are under attack, decades after the Civil Rights Movement. Turn on the news and look outside your window to get a glimpse of this worldview.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Rankine’s words are arresting and they inscribe a profound sense of urgency.  The poems and essays challenge expectation versus reality when it comes to racism in daily life. From how you walk, talk, dress, work, and think – racism is like a constant tap on the shoulder causing stress on your state of being. This is definitely a carry-it-with-you-at-all-times type of book.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

I had to close and put this book down a few times before I mustered the courage to finish it. The constant fight against injustice, racism, and civil unrest in a world that seems to stand firm against progress can bring about an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.  I do believe that Adjei-Brenyah outlines a map toward hope, but there is a lot to unpack and feel before getting there.

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wanted to end this list with a book penned by Dr. King himself. The book serves as a roadmap of Dr. King’s goals and plans to attain a better tomorrow in America. These aspirations focus on better education, an improved workforce and pay scale, and safe and quality housing. His words have indeed transcended time, but it is a shame that these issues still impact our society today – along with medical care and state governance. I know, hot topics.

The cadence of our journey toward an improved quality of life has been steady but these reads will make you want to ramp things up a notch.