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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  9,548 ratings  ·  306 reviews
First-person account of the extraordinary life of America's greatest civil rights leader. It begins with his boyhood as the son of a preacher, his education as a minister, his ascendancy as a leader of civil rights, & his complex relationships with leading political & social figures of the day.
Kindle Edition, 401 pages
Published (first published August 1986)
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“To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person.”- Dr. King.

Lincoln emancipated the slaves but more than 100 years later, the descendants of the slaves were still living under segregation and fear. They weren’t free in the true sense of the word. There were separate facilities for Blacks and Whites; separate drinking fountains, restaurants, schools, churches etc, there was also widespread poverty. There were men and women
I had to keep reminding myself that it's not the civil rights movement I am rating and reviewing, because the spectrum of legitimate excuses, let alone justifications, which could explain the withholding of a star or two is rather limited. It comes as a kick to the gut every time a young, unarmed Clifford Glover or a Travyon Martin or a Michael Brown is shot for no valid reason and the realization sinks in that the process of integration which was initiated by Lincoln some 150+ years ago and fur ...more
Jan 23, 2014 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Rowena
Shelves: ruard_referred

I am not certain, fifty years later, that White America can really appreciate what Martin Luther King, Jr. did for this country. Beyond the necessary needed to be done for the African-American population, it is difficult - impossible, really - to imagine how much our nation would have further suffered had MLK not been the one to lead the charge for change. As a middle-class white man in 2014 would I have been able to relate to a militant, angry, disenfranchised black man/woman willing to kill or
Best.Book.Ever. The chapter ' Letters from Birmingham Jail' is the most compelling thing I've ever read. Dr King was the real deal. I realize this is not a 'comprehensive' autobiography, meaning it was not intentionally written as one, the King family but Dr. Clayborne Carson in charge of the King Papers and he did a great job. On finishing this book, I e mailed Dr. Carson at Stanford University - it was a Saturday - and I had a response in 5 minutes. A very humble response to my overly gushing ...more
Disclosure: I own the physical book of this, but I consumed it via its Grammy-winning audiobook instead. Why?
1. It's narrated by LeVar Burton, the former host of Reading Rainbow--there's a reason kids listened to him and wished they knew how to read, and it's because he makes whatever he's saying jump to life.
2. It's peppered with clips (or full recordings) of numerous speeches by Dr. King himself. Some you've doubtless heard before, like his "I have a dream" speech or even his "I've been to th
Rosa Ramôa
"Eu também sou vítima de sonhos adiados, de esperanças dilaceradas, mas, apesar disso, eu ainda tenho um sonho, porque a gente não pode desistir da vida".
(Martin Luther King)
Adam Wiggins
This is not quite a true autobiography, but rather a collection of King's writings and speeches throughout his life, edited and assembled by a third party. I found this disappointing because it lacked the benefit of hindsight perspective that a biographer could have brought, but also doesn't necessarily have the personal tone and thesis of an autobiography.

I listened to this in audio form, which included many recordings of King's sermons and speeches. This gives a firsthand glimpse at his fantas
Jeremy Perron
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is an incredible work; however one needs to remember that it is not a real autobiography. Like The Autobiography of Malcolm X, it was written after he died. It was assembled by the editor, Clayborne Carson, who went over King's papers both public and personnel and edited his work into a biographical format. The book received the endorsement of Coretta Scott King in 1998. The book is a brilliant piece of literature. Carson is careful to let the reader ...more
In school we listened to and read some of Martin Luther King's speeches and in recent years I had read a sermon or two of his, but that was the breadth of my experience with his work. Having now read the autobiography, I think it should be required reading in high schools.

As many reviewers have mentioned, it is a little strange to call it an autobiography. However, there is so much first hand accounts that I don't really have a problem with it. I don't think that the editor, Clayborne Carson ste
Carson takes some liberties adopting an "autobiography" construct. By using the first person singular, the author makes the subject of his book seem, for example, more defensive when Dr. King decided not to remain in jail awaiting trial instead of remaining true to the nonviolent direct action tenet of demonstrating civil disobedience by remaining incarcerated. The story does benefit from this personal perspective as King explores his religion, his career choices, his opposition to Viet Nam and ...more
Nii Lamptey
Martin makes Christianity attractive.
He's somebody to model a life after.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. gives an overview of the major movements in King's life, from his childhood, up until his death. Although the book is written in King's own words, the book is actually a compilation of his various writings: essays, sermons, speeches, letters, etc. Because of his untimely death, King was not able to write his own autobiography. King's wife enlisted the historian of Stanford University (Clayborne Carson) to go through King's extensive writings to put so ...more
Not knowing much about Martin Luther King Jnr this gave me a good grounding in his philosophy of non violence and the political and social conditions he was seeking to change during his lifetime. It's very well put together and I could believe that he was actually narrating it. The author has done a brilliant job of pulling his writings together and coming up with a rounded biography of one of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement.
Ashok Thirunavukarasu
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr., Clayborne Carson is an exceptional read – it isn’t just a book about an individual, but of an entire movement, and its people behind it, about each man & woman and their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would really recommend this book to my friends + family.

That being said,Linah (a friend who asked me to name three things I took from the book), here are the top 3 things I took away from the book:

Omar Halabieh
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance. We cannot have a healthy nation with one-tenth of the people ill-nourished, sick, harboring germs of disease which recognize no color lines—obey no Jim Crow laws. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime. We cannot be truly Christian peo
Thomas DeWolf
I've had this set of audio cassettes for several years. For the same reasons I read Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch I recently listened to these 6 cassettes on a long drive from our home in Oregon to my sister-in-law's wedding in San Diego and back.

LeVar Burton does a wonderful job of narration. Listening to the history of the Civil Rights movement through the experiences, writings, and speeches of Dr. King is well worth the time. The best aspect of listening to this book as opposed to read
Michael Paone
My experience with this book is hard to put into words. I'm convinced he was simply beyond the majority of people of his time, and fought hard against limited worldviews of religion, politics, and human existence, from the standpoint of spirit. From the book you get a great sense of how he is able to (and struggles to) communicate his vision to all levels of people -- from ethnocentric segregationists, to complacent / fatalistic faith leaders, to black nationalist defectors, and everyone in betw ...more
Liz Echavarria
A Must Read

An inspirational well written autobiography that recreates the times and struggle of the civil rights movement as well as, impressively captures the essence and feelings of Dr. King through its narrative and speeches. Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday but I question if many of us from this generation really understand who is Dr. King and the significant contribution he made to civil rights through his nonviolent movement for change for the downtrotten poor, fro
I just finished listening to the audiobook version of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., which includes rare recordings of speeches and sermons of Dr. King. The book was edited by Clayborne Carson, and read by Lavar Burton.

While I have admired Dr. King most of my life, and I have read various books and articles about him, I had never taken the time to devour this great autobiography. And while there would be advantages to reading the print version, such as being able to highlight and
Lawrence Auls
What a powerful book, a moving tribute to a man who is thankfully recognized for his life's work, and yet can never get enough recognition.

This compilation of speeches and writings is an unusual format for an autobiography, and it paints a particularly moving picture of Martin Luther King, Jr the public man. His writing and rhetoric is outstanding - at once emotional and targeted.

I'm very interested to listen to the audio book - LeVar Burton was a great choice!

I highly recommend this book, parti
Dave Flores
I thought that this was an excellent book to read and I'd recommend it to anybody who's interested in learning a bit more about MLK. It mainly covers his beliefs and achievements throughout the civil rights movement. He was a great man with great determination and it's too bad he was assassinated in his fight for peace and equality.

The only complaint I have is that in some parts of the book it sort of left me hanging. It didn't tell me enough of what I wanted to know, I was sort of left with qu
The first several chapters were very interesting and showed potential for the remainder of the book. However, I did notice quite a bit of redundancy throughout the book, which was slightly annoying and led to a feeling of disinterest. For a life filled with so many challenges, discoveries, setbacks, and'd think the book would be much more exciting/interesting. I just did not think the "real" MLK came out, but more of a stereotypical "good" and somewhat shallow MLK instead. I was d ...more
Adrielle Pottle
I have read this Bio three times now and it just keeps getting better. It is inspiring to read that one man's passion can bring about such change. Not only that, he was human! He was not flawless. I connected with the writing and the personality of Martin Luther King because he was not perfect but he stood by his convictions. He has and always will be someone I will aspire to be like.

I have learned so many things about the movement King was involved in from reading this that my mind boggles. The
Paul Barone
On 5 March 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. along with Kentucky civil rights leaders, led a 10,000-person march up Capitol Avenue in Frankfort, Kentucky towards the Kentucky capitol. The marchers were urging for the passage of a public accommodations bill that had been introduced in January to the Kentucky House of Representatives. The bill, much like the one that was proposed by President Kennedy a year earlier, would end segregation in Kentucky in the area of public accommodations such as retail st ...more
Don King
An amazing, eye opening story of the life of a great man. His vision for the what could be, his eloquence in explaining what should be and his persistence in bringing it about are incredible. The final chapter, with his last speech where he foreshadows his own death the following day is chilling. It's amazing to me that, at least in Canada, I never heard one thing about MLK in school. How can it be that the leader of one of the most important movements of our time could be ignored by our school ...more
Somewhat repetitive, because this is more a compilation of lectures and surveys than it is an autobiography (hence Carson is listed as the author). Still, it is a very good collection and provides a lot of insight into King's points of view on more than just theology or civil rights, but international affairs. Even if you're not a King fan, this educates you a lot about the Civil Rights movement, which from my point of view is terrifyingly recent, which makes it all the more important to be fami ...more
I'm so glad I read this book. Shameful how little I knew about King's many many involvements.

1998 published. Clayborne Carson, historian, had been invited by Coretta King and the King foundation to head up the MLK archives and to compile this book.

King had published autobiographical accounts of shorter periods of his career and these are incorporated in this book, along with excerpts from many of King's speeches, letters, articles.

Carson's goal was to use almost exclusively MLK's own words, and
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life had become a fixed part of American mythology for years prior to this. Indeed, to many African Americans whose rights he helped expand, to many other minorities whose lives his victories touched, and to many whites who welcomed the changes his leadership brought, King's life seemed mythological even as he lived it. He is celebrated as a hero not only for the concrete legislation he enabled, but for his articulation of dreams and hopes shared by many during an era o ...more
Adrise Elem
The book I choose to read was the autobiography of martin luther king written by Dr. Martin luther king. This book took place in the 1960s when racism still existed.It was also about a man who belived that all men should be created equal no matter what race they are.Also Martin Luther king was assignated because he recited his speech "I have a dream".

I chose this book because I knew I could learn about what happened back when Martin Luther King and why he died.My mother also told to read the boo
Jacinda EVHS Chen
I felt this book really put together what Martin Luther King Jr. was thinking and how his life was during his life. From the time he was born in 1929 to his assassination in 1968, he was a very peaceful man. However, because of his rights movement, he was the object of much hate and bitterness. One hater even bombed his house. He and his family were willing to give their lives to their cause. King Jr. inspired thousands to face against the unfair racial discrimination as well as other rights suc ...more
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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 ef ...more
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