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Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

4.47  ·  Rating Details ·  521 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America's future, including the need for better jobs, higher wage ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Beacon Press (first published November 30th 1966)
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Dan Bernier On page ten. (I have ISBN 9780807000670, this edition:

It's preceded by, and in contrast, to this: "The Negro…more
On page ten. (I have ISBN 9780807000670, this edition:

It's preceded by, and in contrast, to this: "The Negro on a mass scale is working vigorously to overcome his deficiencies and his maladjustments. Wherever there are job-training programs Negroes are crowding them. Those who are employed are revealing an eagerness for advancement never before so widespread and persistent. In the average Negro home a new appreciation for culture is manifest. The circulation of periodicals and books written for Negroes is now in the multimillions while a decade ago it was scarcely past one hundred thousand. In the schools more Negros are demanding courses that lead to college and beyond, refusing to settle for the crude vocational training that limited so many of them in the past."

After the quote in question he continues: "It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn. The reality of substantial investment to assist Negroes into the twentieth century, adjusting to Negro neighbors and genuine school integration, is still a nightmare for all too many white Americans."(less)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 02, 2010 Walter rated it really liked it
This is the last of Martin Luther King Jr.'s books and reflects the world-weariness that affected him deeply before his assassination. It is an uncharacteristically frank book, as King's frustration, transcendence and visionary thinking are so abundantly and powerfully evident. Yet, it's also hard not to be a tad saddened by it, too. Here, a modern martyr lays bare his soul and we find that he suffers greatly.

The subject matter of the book - including King's take on Black Power, white backlash,
May 15, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable book, apparently King Jr's last, published in June '67 a little less than a year before his assassination.

The context is amazing - the confrontation with the white Jim Crow arena in the South had been dismantled. King's disciplined non-violent resistance had proved enough of a contrast to the baton crunching and police dogs to raise up a majority of white indignation and anger that pulled the structure down. In 1965 major civil rights legislation had passed the US Congress and signe
Jan 25, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book when I was a junior in high school to understand the Civil Rights movement and find out about Martin Luther King Jr. in his own words rather than in what the mainstream media was saying about him. People forget that King was hated by many people in white America, and his message was often distorted by the media. He was especially condemned by the white (and black) establishment after he gave a 1967 speech opposing the Vietnam War.
Read for class.

I am astonished, perhaps amazed by Dr. King's thoughts. His transcendent non-violent morality, as well as his world-weary readiness for martyrdom are both apparent here. This was written after the momentous Civil Rights victory, and his efforts shifted from organizational and de facto instead of de jure racism. In short, the problems which still plague most of the black community today. If only he was alive a little bit longer. Much has been done to solve these problems in America
Bethany Johnsen
When MLK was presented to me in grade school, it was as a man whose “dream” has been achieved. You see, kids, there was a time in the South when black Americans could not ride at the front of a bus, send their children to school with whites, or eat at lunch counters. (Not really sure why, that's just how things were in the 60s; they didn't have Internet back then either.) Well, one day there was a tired, grumpy old black lady who didn't want to move to the back of the bus, and a nice black preac ...more
Oct 31, 2016 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What if MLK sat down with Bernie Sanders? I can't be the only one to wonder, reading this on the eve of what is hopefully the ugliest Election Day of my lifetime.

The scope of MLK's vision is far larger than I ever thought. Probably the most emphasized point in this book is: Racial equality means absolute economic equality, and on this point both Black and White America can unite. In his own words:

Negro programs go beyond race and deal with economic inequality, wherever it exists. In the pursui
Aug 14, 2013 Sheltondeverell rated it really liked it
This book is instructive, as a clear example of persuasive language, as a record of the cogent intelligence behind King's speeches, and as a document that maps the main issues that motivated King and catalyzed his leadership. He talks about what the civil rights movement accomplished, their present in 1967, and the actions they should take in the future on several fronts. These areas include education, housing, employment, and rights, in a global struggle against poverty and racism. It is obviou ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unquestionably important book. MLK's writing is incredibly coherent and well-structured. His ideas are definite, well-supported, and effective. It is distressing to read about problems that concerned him in the '60s that are still the same today, but this highlights the timelessness of MLK's thoughts. We could use more leaders today who have MLK's unique gifts: the triple threat of brilliant insight, clarity of expression, and authenticity (proven through a demonstrated commitment to act on h ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Kln9 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Way ahead of its time. King's final book -- shows his evolution from 1963's I Have a Dream speech. Very insightful. A side of King that is not discussed.
Chris Bracco
Mar 13, 2017 Chris Bracco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This essay is far and away one of the most impactful works I have ever read. It is a call-to-arms urging that we embrace the warm bodies of one another instead of the cold triggers of our rifles, or the tight reigns of our ideologies. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to nonviolent resistance and his ideas about building community and uniting nations are just as relevant today as they were decades ago.

His words feel especially urgent in today’s current global economic and political climate. Th
May 28, 2011 Vasha7 rated it liked it
Civil Rights laws had been passed, but... This book is largely centered around what to do with the frustrating situation of governments that don't do anything to implement the laws they pass, who don't budget money for remediation programs and enforcement; whites who turn their attention away after the first statement of support; who think blacks are asking for too much; who want limited justice but not full equality -- and with the frustration, division, apathy, violence, that overtake the atti ...more
Tamara Hill
We read this together with our church's reading group. Written in 1967, this is the last book Dr. King wrote before being assassinated in 1968. The title alone felt important for our current political climate in the U.S. I will write a longer review soon, but for now I'll say that this as provocative and prescient as anything I've ever read/heard from Dr. King. I'm grateful for the group of thoughtful people who were willing to read along with me, and engage in the deep conversations the book in ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for any revolutionary or politically interested person, young or old. A book that outlines how movements move forward, particularly after achieving some of their goals as the Civil Rights movement had at the time of this book was written. Reading this in our current climate, of Black Lives Matter protests all over the United States, makes Dr. King's words even more prescient and important. The last chapter, The World House, was also a very timely read in the aftermath of the Paris at ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book -- and by extension, its author -- SO FAR AHEAD OF ITS TIME.

I was inspired to read it after visiting the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. There, I learned that Dr. King was so much more than the flat, watered-down version presented in my high school history books. He was a real man with profound thoughts, agonizing feelings, and boundless hope. He was almost certainly a genius as well as a humanitarian, gifted speaker and eloquent writer. I learned so much from this bo
Sep 19, 2011 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Bill Ayers's "To Teach" quotes from this a few times, and it was always something that makes you go 'hmm' so I got the book. It's the last book-length writing from MLK and I think it was published after the assassination. MLK is dealing with the criticisms from the 'black power' groups while trying to move past some of the more limited short term goals of the civil rights movement and begin the 'poor peoples movement' in the bigger cities.

The book changed my view of MLK. I guess I had the symbol
Jan 21, 2014 Woodrow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a "MLK 101" book. It's his last piece of written literature, and represents many of his thoughts only some time before the bullet took him from us.

As such, it dispels many of the myths surrounding him. He advocates for ideas that, then and now, are radical, such as a minimum income (not simply a minimum wage, or welfare, but a baseline payment to everyone to allow for purchasing food, clothing, and shelter). He points to the black riots and black power as someone who decries violence
Sebastián Arriagada
This book deals with the perspective of the nonviolent movement for civil rights after having attained some legal disposition towards the black community. However, as the author points out, laws do not ensure that reality is going to change. Where do we go from here is the title and genuine question by King jr in order to transform the reality for his peers AND folks from other races who also feel the impact of poverty and violence.

King has a narrative that is straightforward, making it friendly
Zachary Taylor
Where Do We Go From Here was the last book Martin Luther King Jr. ever wrote. It also includes, perhaps, his most provocative—and in my opinion, most persuasive—ideas. “We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing’-oriented society,” King asserts, “to a ‘person’-oriented society.” This is the central theme of perhaps the entire book, and it embodies King’s distinct personalism, which he studied while pursuing his doctorate at Boston University. “Personalism’s insistence that only personality—fi ...more
Ben Moody
Oct 19, 2012 Ben Moody rated it really liked it
The philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. goes far beyond what was outlined in "I Have a Dream." Published just a few months before his assassination, he outlines his vision for the future. I honestly believe that many people would not want to build a monument to remember him, let alone like him, if they read this book, which makes his extreme liberal beliefs, which border of socialism, clear. But regardless, it is a very good and insightful book, and demonstrates how much the man was dedicated t ...more
shaz rasul
Jan 07, 2012 shaz rasul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, five-star
Written in 1967, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community" charts what should have been the next phase in Dr. King's work, clearly directing us to the need for a concentrated effort on poverty and economic social justice. Reading these words in 2012 leaves one cold - for all the progress the civil rights era brought to America, on these economic issues we may as well be standing still.

"Where do we go from Here: Chaos or Community" is a must read to get a full picture of Dr. King's understa
Jan 22, 2010 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Opens by talking about the backlash a year after Civil Rights legislation was passed: "In several Southern states men long regarded as political clowns had become governors or only narrowly missed election, their magic achieved with a "witches" grew of bigotry, prejudice, half truths and whole lies." Sounds familiar.
Feb 01, 2014 Victor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While there are many documentaries on Dr. Martin Luther King, I believe that everyone who claims to admire him should also read Dr. King’s writings. This is a beautiful work, especially if you are interested in Chicago history, for Dr. King discusses Chicago’s issues on many occasions in this work. If I was a teacher, I would assign this.
Rob Carr
Dec 10, 2015 Rob Carr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a little while to get used to reading this with the style of writing but it is am interesting and engaging call for action on equal rights and discussion of the problems surrounding the fight.
Apr 25, 2011 Micah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Look back 46 years, it's a little disheartening to know that we are still struggling with some of the problems King addresses in this book. Nonetheless I see us choosing community over chaos. Patience is necessary for non-violent revolutions.
Jan 15, 2016 SaraJean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for anyone who interacts with the world. The only downside of this book is how relevant and accurate it still is almost 50 years after publication - too little has changed. On a literary note, it's always nice to remember how poetic King's voice was.
Jan 31, 2012 Tunde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is awesome. A lot of what he covers still applies today. Its amazing how far we've come yet how far we have to go.
Glen Gersmehl
Dec 26, 2014 Glen Gersmehl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
King's last book offers a great view of the breadth of his activism and thinking
Jan 21, 2014 Bryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful message from MLK that has lost little power ot urgancy. If only we as a society had follwed King's vision we would have much more just society today.
Jan 05, 2011 Darceylaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read for, well, all Americans. Really helped me deepen my thinking abour how far we have come, where we need to go, and how we can get there.
Aug 23, 2008 Lily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read! This could have been written today. If you live in Ithaca, this will be available back in print soon...Change the world!
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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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“Let us be dissatisfied until America will no longer have high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the fires of justice. Let us be dissatisfied until they who live on the outskirts of Hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security. Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heap of history and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home. Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be
transformed into the bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.”
“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look at thousands of working people displaced from their jobs with reduced incomes as a result of automation while the profits of the employers remain intact, and say: “This is not just.” It will look across the oceans and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing to prevent us from paying adequate wages to schoolteachers, social workers and other servants of the public to insure that we have the best available personnel in these positions which are charged with the responsibility of guiding our future generations. There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American citizen whether he be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid or day laborer. There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum—and livable—income for every American family. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from remolding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.” 6 likes
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