Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Epic Challenge to the Church” as Want to Read:
Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Epic Challenge to the Church
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Epic Challenge to the Church

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  35 reviews
From time to time prophetic Christian voices rise to challenge our nation's original sin. In the twentieth century, compelled by the Spirit of God and a yearning for freedom, the African American church took the lead in heralding the effort. Like almost no other movement before or since, Christian people gave force to a social mission. And, remarkably, they did it largely ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by IVP Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Birmingham Revolution, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Birmingham Revolution

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  105 ratings  ·  35 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Epic Challenge to the Church
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Solitary confinement in prison can be a shattering psychological experience, one often used to break the spirit of those imprisoned. For Martin Luther King, Jr., solitary confinement served not only to further forge the character of this civil rights leader, but resulted in one of the signature documents of the civil rights movement, indeed, one of the most important human rights documents of the Twentieth century. The document of which I'm speaking is "Letter from Birmingham Jail."

Edward Gilbre
Apr 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I opened this book because I wanted to know more of the history of my city and I wanted to know more about the man who helped change it and who still is changing it. Galbreath clung to the truth that the church made the civil rights movement. That before there were marches, speeches, and imprisonments there was prayer, hymn singing, and sermons. I now have developed new questions which will require other books and more conversations. I hope that I too will not delve into action of any kind, or a ...more
Amy Binkerd
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am thankful that I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, because who knows if I ever would have stumbled across it on my own! Goodreads asks me, "What did you think?"...that's a tough one with this book. It took me several weeks to read this all the way through. Not because it's not a good book, but because it is. But you can't just read this, set it aside, and not think about it again like many other books. I found myself being put through an obstacle course of emotions, and taking a hard lo ...more
Tiffany Smith
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Martin Luther King, in his Letter from Birmingham Jail said, We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant “Ne ...more
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a history lesson, a reflective meditation, and a testament to King's Letter from Birmingham Jail. ...more
Joel Wentz
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gilbreath provides an extremely helpful articulation of MLK's journey and legacy for confused and tortured Evangelicals (like me). For many of us, who are deeply pained and passionate about racial inequity and injustice in America, the way the MLK is frequently talked about (and employed) in sermons and conversations in mostly-white-evangelical circles leaves us scratching our heads. This book is a wonderfully accessible volume that sheds tremendous light on MLK and the Birmingham chapter of the ...more
Hope Fairchild Hughes
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Simply incredible. This book sheds light on who MLK was as a person as well as the truth in his movement and his letter. MLK had so many people behind him and never lost sight of who was really in charge - God. Enlightening, powerful, and insightful, Gilbreath identifies the ways we can use MLK’s life to inspire us to act today.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, this book is a wonderful social justice read. It has definitely helped me on my anti-racist journey.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race, history
A look at MLK's legacy, particularly the challenge he offered the church in Letter from a Birmingham Jail, the entire Birmingham movement (led by Fred Shuttleworth and MLK), and King's legacy today. Glbreath also suggests the need for evangelicals to follow King's lead in confronting systemic sin (e.g. racism, poverty, etc). ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book makes references to King's words in his "Letter From Birmingham Jail", but assumes that the reader has already read it and knows what the author is talking about. At some point as you go through Gilbreath's commentary, you'll likely feel the need to put the book down and go hunt for King's original letter as a reference. I was inspired to read one of the original drafts of King's letter halfway through Gilbreath's book as well as to read the letter again before writing this revie
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. For one thing it tells the story of what it takes to ignite a revolution as well as the difficulties that one faces in changing the course of history and people groups. This is a great read for understanding some of the racialized history of the United States. What I also appreciated about Gilbreath is that he applied it to one of today’s modern questions in the USA: immigration.
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as part of the first reads giveaway program so I was not entirely sure what to expect. I was pleased to find that the author presented an in depth look at Dr. King's Civil Rights activities in Birmingham that not only dealt with his interaction with the government but also his interaction with the various church leaders at the time. In exploring the history behind Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", the author helped me realize how much of his work then is still relev ...more
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Gilbreath is a journalist, not a historian, so this books moves quickly and doesn't ever get bogged down in dry historical details. I really enjoyed learning more about Martin Luther King Jr. and the other people working with him in the civil rights movement. (I am ashamed to say that I did not know who Fred Shuttlesworth was before I read this; I'd like to learn more about him now.) I feel like Gilbreath could have spent more time talking about what King's work means for today. I'll have to fin ...more
Kelly Russell
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. One of the most important books I've ever read. At basically only 170 pages, it's not hefty in size, but it is substantial in thoughts and ideas to inform and challenge my thinking. Gilbreath looks at the year 1963 (and leading up to it) in the city of Birmingham, Alabama and Dr. Martin Luther King and other significant people at the time. The book speaks to America then and America today in an important way, to clarify Race relations as it was then, as it still is today, and wit ...more
Michael Dalton
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the prologue to Birmingham Revolution, author Edward Gilbreath writes, “There are two race-related facts about our nation’s founding that we cannot get around. First, Native Americans, the original inhabitants of the territory that eventually would become the United States, were usurped from the land by a combination of force and political deceit” (12). This reminds me of something the late singer/songwriter Rich Mullins said in an interview, “I’m very hurt over the determination of the gover ...more
Tim Hoiland
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Every year on the third Monday in January, a strange thing happens. A whole range of people—including white evangelicals like me—take to Facebook, Twitter, and yes, even to blogs like this, to commemorate the legacy and words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

For many of us, his “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is seen as one of the iconic moments in American history, an inspiring, goosebumps-inducing work of oratory genius. Incidentally, those of us who grew up on Christian
Nov 28, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this book based on a World magazine recommendation. I think it was a helpful book, helping me become more familiar with civil rights history and the persons involved in it. I read the Letter from Birmingham jail, and like I mentioned in my review of Austin Channing Brown's I'm Still Here (, I found MLK's comments about the complacent white person to be especially convicting. I definitely have a desire to not continue in ignorance. ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
A solid breakdown of the events that lead to the writing of ‘The Letter From Birmingham Jail’ and it and Dr. King’s lasting impact. I particularly appreciated the latter half of this book, which outlines the complicated relationship evangelicals have had with Dr. King and his legacy in the decades following the letter’s publication. Highly recommended, I just wish it was slightly more detailed as it felt like I was just skimming the surface of history :)
Kevin Smallacombe
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring and exciting. Makes me want to read more.
Thomas Christianson
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good, brief overview of King's work in Birmingham. ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
must read
Jun 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, j-rr
I enjoyed this look into MLK's work in Birmingham including his famous letter from jail. ...more
Steve Anderson
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Remembering the role of faith in the civil rights movement: a review for Birmingham Revolution by Edward Gilbreath

I received a free copy of the book from the Goodreads Give-a-way contest.

This is a good book. It looks at what shaped Martin Luther King Jr’s Christian challenge to the white clergy in Birmingham during a crucial moment in the civil rights movement. For that alone, it’s worth buying. While it is a short book, Gilbreath takes the time to show the real importance of Reverend Shuttlewor
Adam Shields
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: King's Letters from a Birmingham Jail as well as the whole Birmingham campaign still have something to say to the modern church. After re-reading Letters from a Birmingham Jail last month I picked up this book that both discusses the letter and gives context to the whole Birmingham campaign. It is hard to overstate how convicting that I find Letter from a Birmingham Jail, while overt racism is much less prevalent than when it was written, the underlying issues that King is addressi ...more
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: free
I received this book free from Goodreads First Reads.
This book was very well-informed, as the author had not only done his research but also had traveled to the places which were most influential for Dr.MLK Jr.'s life. The topic in the beginning of the comparison to the Martin Luther v. the Catholic Church was not overly-religious (which one might assume)but rather factual and informative. The bias nature of the book slanted towards a more 'religious' nature but wholeheartedly the subject in sp
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.0 of 5 stars – Glimpse at The Genius, Faith & Humanity of a Great Man
(I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks, Leah!)

My how the ripples rolled out from a simple letter in the pond of the civil rights movement.

I was fascinated by how Galbreath spelled out the various religious, social, economic and political implications, forces and events surrounding the letter that Dr. King wrote. In the process I learned more about the man, the people and the civil rights movement
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Race and Christianity, (evangelical)gets a pretty thorough review in this book. Gilbreath's division of white 'evangelists' into uber generalists, meta moderates and reluctant radicals was interesting. MLKs rage at the segregation, his Thoreauvian civil disobedience, Gandhian non violence and Christian forgiveness coming together in solitary confinement is very poignant. MLKs greatest influences were non black figures: Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi. The book is a decent portrayal of his angst and w ...more
Russell Goulet
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Birmingham Revolution addresses events that happened more than 50 years ago, but Edward Gilbreath is able to bring a new perspective and new information to the struggle. The historical information in the book is enhanced by Gilbreath's own take on the events, but he also adds information from those who had first-hand knowledge and experience. The book examines the changes that happened in the 1960s, but also adds a current look at these historical events. I received the book through Goodreads Fi ...more
Joshua Kennedy
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Gilbreath crafts a fresh version of Martin Luther King Jr.'s story, going beyond the typical "I Have a Dream" version of Dr. King and deeper into his more personal, vulnerable side. At the same time, the author stresses the importance of MLK's work with the church back then as well as the church now.

"What does it mean to live out the Christian gospel in the context of a broken, unjust society? When does the silence of the people of faith become as damaging as the shouts of haters?"
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I just received a copy of this book through the GoodReads First Reads program. I eagerly look forward to reading it soon!

This is a compelling and powerful analysis of the historical circumstances surrounding Dr King's life with a special focus on his experiences in Birmingham and the story if his Letter from the Birmingham Jail.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and it deepened my thirst to go back and re-read Dr King's writings, most especially the Letter from the Birmingham Jail.
Carol Brusegar
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In preparation for my first trip to Birmingham, AL, I read this. It effectively used a concise history of the key players and events of the civil rights movement in Birmingham to help readers look back at those times and to look at what it means to the present and the future.

It's a well-written book that uses people's stories to bring new dimensions and insight to the events.
I highly recommend it.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
InterVarsity Pres...: My Review of Birmingham Revolution 1 7 Feb 19, 2015 05:38AM  
InterVarsity Pres...: My review of Birmingham Revolution 1 5 Nov 10, 2014 10:26AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth
  • What If Jesus Was Serious?: A Visual Guide to the Teachings of Jesus We Love to Ignore
  • Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair
  • Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God
  • Star Wars, Vol. 11: The Scourging of Shu-Torun
  • Zikora
  • How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon
  • Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom
  • Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers
  • Jesus and the Disinherited
  • Hell In A Handbasket (Star Trek Graphic Novel Collection, #93)
  • A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
  • The Way of the Father: Lessons from My Dad, Truths about God
  • The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity
  • Gracism: The Art of Inclusion
  • Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership
  • Free to Thrive: How Your Hurt, Struggles, and Deepest Longings Can Lead to a Fulfilling Life
  • Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want
See similar books…
See top shelves…

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
2 likes · 0 comments