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Why We Can't Wait

4.44  ·  Rating Details ·  3,733 Ratings  ·  206 Reviews
Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

“Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, ‘Wait.’ But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim…when you see the vast majority of twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Signet (first published 1963)
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Jun 26, 2012 Walter rated it it was amazing
This is one of the - if not the - best of King's books, as it details the crucial Birmingham campaign and features at its heart the incredible Letter from Birmingham Jail. Although always positive in tone, it deals with the realities of a campaign that is now viewed as pivotal to the success of the American Civil Rights Movement but that was anything but assured in its own time. That King acknowledges this reality while placing it in a constructive context all the while advancing his positive, ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Amber rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I think that every American should read this book. MLK, Jr. was an amazing man who was in love with God and who had a heart for people. He had an amazing understanding of what Jesus Christ would do and, I believe, was a great example of what a Christian should be. As I re-read "Letters From a Birmingham Jail", I was reminded how loving and forgiving of a man he was, even to the people who despised him the most. He had a vision of a world where everyone was treated equally, no matter what the ...more
Benjamin Zapata
Feb 18, 2013 Benjamin Zapata rated it it was amazing
"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." - Martin Luther King Jr. A beautiful book with an everlasting message of love and non-violence; a classic exploration of the events and forces behind the Civil Right movement by someone that was there,one of the greatest human soul to walk on our planet,an enduring testament to the wise and courageous vision of Martin Luther King Jr. A must read for everyone!!!
Daniel Namie
Dec 20, 2012 Daniel Namie rated it it was amazing
"Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another's flesh."
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The concluding words from Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.’s were written in his book entitled "Why We Can't Wait." The words illustrate the everlasting struggle of humanity to regain its humanity from the inherited corru
حسين إسماعيل
Jul 14, 2015 حسين إسماعيل rated it really liked it
أظنّ أن مارتن لوثر كنغ غنيٌّ عن التعريف فلا حاجة للخوض في تفاصيل حياته وأنشطته الحقوقية. هذا الكتاب يقدّم بشكل موجز طبيعة الحراك النضالي للأمريكيين "السود" في ستينات القرن الماضي. يتبحّر م.ل.ك في الهموم والمشاكل والإخفاقات والنجاحات التي لازمت حراكهم، ويركز بشكل خاص في هذا الكتاب على المطالبات الحقوقية في مدينة برمنغهام في ألاباما، وهي على حد تعبيره أكثر مدينة مفصولة عرقياً في أمريكا.

على الرغم من أن الكتاب صغير الحجم نسبيا، إلا أن الكاتب يقدّم لمحة جميلة لأفكاره ويدعّمها بأمثلة من الواقع فيما يق
Laine The Librarian
Nov 09, 2016 Laine The Librarian rated it it was amazing
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

And the famous......

“I Had a Dream....”

And can never forget.....

"Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at las
Wow. How sad is it that I live in Alabama, and I never knew that in 1963, Birmingham was considered to be the most segregated city in America?

Martin Luther King, Jr's Why We Can't Wait is an excellent treatise on the race issues still facing our country 50 years ago - 100 years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

This book is about non-violent revolution. About some of the turning points in American history 50 years ago, especially in Birmingham.

Please read this. We, especially those of
Jan 18, 2009 Kei rated it it was amazing
I read this book in high school at a time when I was just beginning to truly understand the Civil Rights movement. This book changed my life. I don't care if that sounds cliche or whatever, but there is no way a person can read a book like Why We Can't Wait, and experience Dr. Martin Luther King's more than deeply profound rhetoric of freedom and equality and then turn around and aim for mediocrity. I have a lot more to say but I shall save my thoughts and pour them into action.
May 15, 2014 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race, struggle
I can't believe I hadn't read this before, but how amazing to readjust what I think I know, my ideas of someone I think I know, writing in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement, describing 1963 as the great year of revolution when:
The Negro also had to recognize that one hundred years after emancipation he lived on a lonely island of economic insecurity in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. Negroes are still at the bottom of the economic ladder. They live within two concentric cir
عبدالله  المصري
هل لك أن تتخيل أنه وقبل حوالي خمسين عامًا من الآن كان السود في أمريكا يعاملون معاملة أقل مما تُعامل به الحيوانات ؟

لا بد أن الكثيرين عاشوا ثورة السود من أجل حقوقهم المدنية وذهبوا لانتخاب أوباما وشاهدوا رجلًا أسود يرأس أقوى دولة في العالم ،، الفكرة في حد ذاتها مثيرة.

الكتاب يعتبر مرجع للعمل السلمي الثوري ،، باستخدام قطاع كبير من الشعب
اقرأه إن كنت تبحث عن إجابة لسؤال ( مصر رايحة على فين ؟ )
This was the first book by the great civil rights leader that I have ever read, and it was not only brilliantly-written, but evocative and poignant. It's not only a detailed narration of facts, but an incisive exposition of the African-American soul.

There are two introductions. The first was written by Dorothy F. Cotton, who was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the time, and worked closely with Dr. King.

The second introduction was written by King, and is
In Why We Can’t Wait Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his account of the Birmingham campaign, which sought to dissolve the Jim Crow status quo. From the outset of his campaign, however, tensions were present not only within the black communities, but also with whites who supported their cause. When he began to plan his strategy for nonviolent demonstrations he found that “there was tremendous resistance to [their] program from some of the Negro ministers, businessmen, and professionals in the c ...more
Roy Lotz
Jun 07, 2016 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it
Shelves: americana, politics
For the last few years, I have normally felt that I’ve figured out most of what needs to be figured out concerning people. Everywhere I go, everyone I meet, the same basic petty, High School nonsense resurfaces. People say one thing and do another; people smile in your company, and chatter behind your back. I don’t mean to sound bitter—it’s fun. I simply wish to say that daily life is singularly devoid of heroism and nobility. It’s just imperfect people doing the best they can to get through ...more
Sep 01, 2008 Alanoud rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, فكر
Wow ..I am totally fascinated by dr. king, words …

In this book dr. king, the leader of the civil-rights movement, talked about the conditions and the social, political, religious and economic circumstances that crystallized the birth of the new Negros' revolution, and how things started in Birmingham 1963.

He described the extreme oppression and injustice that they used to face. While I was reading this book, my mind just couldn't stop picturing an endless series of scenes. I've never been influe
John Defrog
Aug 07, 2015 John Defrog rated it it was amazing
I read a section of this before (“Letter From A Birmingham Jail”) in a different collection of MLK’s writings, and of course I’ve heard a few of his speeches, so I was keen to read this book, which doubles as both an account of the direct-action campaign in Birmingham and a manifesto explaining why the civil rights movement was suddenly gaining steam in the early 1960s and why African Americans could no longer wait around for white people to put a stop to institutional racism. It’s a short read ...more
Mar 27, 2016 Astrid rated it really liked it
" man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow was a normal condition of existence.And he has now reached the day when violence towards another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another's flesh".
This book portays incredibly well the ongoing struggle of african americans to have access to the rights they should have received irrefutably. In just 190 pages, Martin Luther King Jr. targets the issue from all the possible perspectives and allows us to see how the demonstrations f
Dec 27, 2010 Dchavez06 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Post-"I have a dream" and pre-Civil Rights act of 1964, this book is a powerful call to action for equality. It has obvious and incredibly strong parallels to gay rights today. I was inspired by MLK's statement about how one should not be "grateful" for advances in obtaining "the same basic rights owed to one's birthright as an American and a member of the human community." I now have a hard time accepting the mainstream, centrist view that advances in civil unions or the repeal of DADT are ...more
Casey Phillips
Jun 04, 2013 Casey Phillips rated it really liked it
Distinguished, inspiring, eloquent. Apart from the Dream speech, I have not read much of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work. He is intelligent and compassionate. He speaks without hate, without bitterness.

Racism and prejudices are still deeply woven into our society. There are patches that are so tightly sewn together. Much of Dr. King's words still ring true today, "For too long the depth of racism in American life has been underestimated. The surgery to extract it is necessarily complex and detail
Leroy Seat
Jan 10, 2010 Leroy Seat rated it really liked it
This is a great book, and I was especially moved by reading (again?) the fifth chapter, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," written in April 1963.

The book is mostly about "the Negro Revolution" that centered in Birmingham in 1963. What we know now that King didn't know when he wrote the book, is that his and others' actions in 1963 led to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which did much to overcome racial segregation in this country.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day this year, we should ta
Living history. A look into the mind of Martin Luther King Jr. Turns out the man was every bit as brilliant as his eloquent speeches and history would suggest. Strange feeling about reading this in this day and age; so little has changed. Many of the things he discussed in the abstract still prevail today. The specifics are different, the discrimination more creative (though still primarily racial in nature but also economic, sexual orientation, religious etc) but the attitudes, the leadership ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, justice
I have to admit to, even respecting King while going into this, I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed what I suspected to be an important but dry book. That's was so wrong, King writes marvelously. I learned a lot of details about the movement, particularly in Birmingham, but also more broadly, how it was structured and how they lead the campaigns, and it was all very interesting, engaging, and wonderfully said. (I must admit to being a bit disappointed with the last chapter on where to go ...more
Paul Demetre
Feb 20, 2013 Paul Demetre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself...", Martin Luther King Jr.

This is just one of the great lines of this powerful work.

Why We Can't Wait is a concise and eloquent account of the events in Birmingham in 1963, as well as an explanation of the civil rights movement, its causes, methods and aims. This is a good reminder of how far we have come in the last fifty years, and how we still have a ways to go.

Martin Luther Kings belongs
Insane that Dr. King had to justify timely organizing for equal rights a hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation but racism is insane like that. Part political thriller, part moral treatise, part organizing manual for speaking truth to power and enriching your soul, his eloquent recounting of the 1963 Birmingham protests pulls you in and pulls no punches. Includes Dr. King’s brilliant Letter from Birmingham Jail, written 50 years ago this week, proclaiming “Injustice anywhere is a ...more
Eric Zandona
Jun 27, 2012 Eric Zandona rated it liked it
I'm glad that I read it but I expected a little more from the writing. The best chapter is his letter from the Birmingham Jail, it demonstrates that he was a smart man who read quite a bit. The last chapter is also good and I can understand why some in the FBI were following him and concerned that he might be a communist. Ultimately I wanted more about the philosophy of non-violent direct action and how they taught people to not respond to violence with violence.
May 22, 2016 Kenny rated it it was amazing
It's simply tremendous. Fascinating to hear the detailed planning and strategizing that went into the Birmingham marches, and to understand the rationale for the events that occurred from the leader himself. Such a powerful writer, with a compelling story to tell. His case for reparations at the end of the book is persuasive.

The modern-day equivalent is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The parallels between the two are damning.
Kevo Rivera
Jun 14, 2014 Kevo Rivera rated it it was amazing
This book is crucially important as a primary source/field guide/case study to any society still aching with the growing pains of revolution and in need of more wholistic justice (aka all societies). As important as it is to understand the process toward African American equality in the US in and of itself, King provides enough proverbial wisdom to incite sparks of revolutionary nonviolent action for any minority cause in which systematic injustice is the norm.
Sahar Abdel-Hameed
Oct 21, 2012 Sahar Abdel-Hameed rated it it was amazing
I am deeply touched by the struggle of Martin Luther King and his companions and the philosophy behind it is much more impressive. The emphasis on non violence and striving for the sake of freedom and equality through means of peace rather than hatred and means of grudge and destruction show the best of humanity...
Jul 03, 2007 Kylos rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone too shallow to get it on their own
afterwards, some things are just better understood.
and other things are infinitely more depressing.
Oct 31, 2014 Kristi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, non-fiction, history
This should be required reading for every American. Such a well reasoned and insightful historical account of the civil rights movement.
Hessa T.
May 25, 2016 Hessa T. rated it really liked it
Very enlightening. Liked it, even though it was for school.
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  • An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy Vol. 1
  • The Nature and Destiny of Man, Vols 1-2
  • The Sweet Science
  • The Promise of American Life
  • Black Power: The Politics of Liberation
  • The Taming Of Chance (Ideas in Context)
  • Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965
  • The Contours of American History
  • Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910
  • In the American Grain (New Directions Paperback No. 53)
  • Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War
  • A Preface to Morals
  • Religion and the Rise of Capitalism
  • Vermeer
  • Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
  • Selected Essays
  • Melbourne
  • Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin
Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the pivotal leaders of the American civil rights movement. King was a Baptist minister, one of the few leadership roles available to black men at the time. He became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956) and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), serving as its first president. His ...more
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