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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  21,090 ratings  ·  860 reviews
With knowledge, spirit, good humor, and passion, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. brings to life a remarkable man whose thoughts and actions speak to our most burning contemporary issues and still inspire the desires, hopes, and dreams of us all.

Written in his own words, this history-making autobiography is Martin Luther King: the mild-mannered, inquisitive chi
Kindle Edition, 401 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Grand Central Publishing (first published August 1986)
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John Jennings This book is more of a compilation of Rev. King's writings than biography, but due to his significant involvement in calling for the US to examine the…moreThis book is more of a compilation of Rev. King's writings than biography, but due to his significant involvement in calling for the US to examine their actions in Vietnam and South America, a decent portion of the book considers freedom for other parts of humanity. As Judy said, his belief in freedom and equality for all made him understand the plights of others.(less)
Xavier If you thought you could read books on Goodreads, you are mistaken. You can look up books, add them to your shelves and write updates and reviews but …moreIf you thought you could read books on Goodreads, you are mistaken. You can look up books, add them to your shelves and write updates and reviews but you can't read them.(less)
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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 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this book at this particular time because I needed to hear the words of someone who believed with his life that hatred and anger were not the answer. The concept of non-violence and the discipline that it requires of the individual seems outdated. As out of touch with our current culture as repression of our instinctual drives is out of touch with current psychology. The thing now is the expression of anger. Anger is the new virtue. But here is the life of a man who at times felt ...more
Diane Wallace
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read! great insight into his life and story (paperback!)
Michael O'Brien
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed reading Dr. King's autobiography, and getting to learn of his point of view on many of the great events during the Civil Rights Era, many of which he spearheaded. I was not sure what to expect --- perhaps something rhetorical or ideological, but Dr. King's narrative is factual and, at times, self-deprecating, emphasizing many of the sacrifices made by others in the effort to defeat segregation. Despite bridling under the humiliation of daily life in the Jim Crow South, Dr. Ki ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dee Dee G
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I follow Bernice King on Twitter and she always says that a lot of people who quote her father now would have hated him back then. I believe she’s right. There’s still a lot of hate today, but it was different many many years ago. Doctor King’s letter from the Birmingham jail is also in this book. I learned so much from this book, but I want to learn a lot more especially since my grandparents and parents grew up in the Jim Crow era. This book will open your eyes to so much.
Vince Will Iam
If there is anything like a promised land, Martin Luther King, Jr must be there watching us.

We are presented with the principles of non-violent resistance which however brutal it could be for the marchers who resisted, turned out to be the most clever option at that time. There is not one single way to fight inequalities but King's philosophy reminds us of how important it is to set an example for ourselves and for others.

I'm really amazed by the way King has made connections between the strugg
Stefania Dzhanamova
In 1957, Time magazine named Martin Luther King, Jr. its "Man of the Year". It characterized him as an "expert organizer" but "no radical" – a Christian civil rights organizer, presumed to be quite different from 1940s black socialists with labor politics. In reality, as is shown in his autobiography, King never narrowed his politics only to civil rights. He had clear links to working-class and poor people through his family, church, and community. While to white journalists the well-dressed, hi ...more
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 (MILLION) STARS. Wow. It's so hard for me to review books that actually literally floored me because I'm at a total loss for words and just awestruck. That's what this book did to me.

Martin Luther King, Jr. has been my hero and role model since before I can remember. He inspires me every day to love fearlessly, passionately, relentlessly. And this autobiography just gave me a whole new and expansive look at his life and faith in a profoundly beautiful way.

Basically all I have to say is…
This bo
May 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Martin makes Christianity attractive.
He's somebody to model a life after.
robin friedman
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Autobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the time of his assassination on April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. had written and accomplished a great deal, but he had not written an autobiography. About 20 years after King's death, his widow, Coretta Scott King, invited historian Clayborne Carson to become the director of the King Papers Project. In the course of this work Carson, already a noted historian of King and of the Civil Rights Movement, had access to a voluminous body of King's wr
A fascinating book and great audio with snip-its from Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual speeches. I liked what it had to say about organizing, definitely some good tips (especially about picking a target and not just protesting generally.)
Like most people, I assume, I am most familiar with MLK's work in the south and was fascinated to learn about his efforts in Chicago. His methods and goals seem to have shifted at that point and I would like to learn more. From my extreme ignorance, it seems to
Jeremy Perron
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

I started the audiobook of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. a day after MLK Jr. Day, figuring, what better time than now to absorb such a heavy subject? And heavy it was. Though misleading in its title, this book is a collection of King's various writings, and the audiobook in particular includes numerous recordings of King's speeches, sermons, etc. I c
Stu Schreiber
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never listened to an audiobook until now but I was urged to listen to this book by a friend. It brought back so many memories of an extraordinary man who's message needs to be repeated continually to a country that has misplaced its conscience. I was blessed to hear Dr. King live. Although I was a young child I have never forgotten that experience and only wish he wasn't taken from us. Thank you Clayborne Carson for refreshing his message. Read this and live Dr. King's message. ...more
Editor and MLK scholar, Clayborne Carson, cobbled together writings and speeches to create this powerful rendering of Dr. King’s work. The audiobook production is chill-inducing. LeVar Burton narrates the stories which are punctuated by actual speech and sermon recordings. Such an incredible human being.
Zebulynn Hanson
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it makes me want to cry when I think of how too good for this world he really was.
Qwantu Amaru
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Make America Great Again

One one level I an deeply ashamed that I am just reading this comprehensive, compelling, and courageous book taken from the writings and speeches of the man himself and on another level I am happy I am reading this in 2016 as the issues of racism, poverty, and war (King's self-described 3 evils) are still very much alive. This is the example of a leader as Servant - a powerful man who dedicated his power not to the creation of personal wealth but to improving the conditio
Omar Halabieh
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Katlyn Powers
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s difficult for me to put my thoughts about MLK’s autobiography into words. It’s inspiring to hear such a provocative call to action that still resonates today. Simultaneously, it’s disheartening to think that his specific plans for advocacy are still very much needed. We still have such a long way to go to recognize his true vision for America.

Prior to reading this, I had honestly only read his Letter from Birmingham Jail and I Have a Dream speech. This fills in so much about his overall ph
Reading The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr was an experience best described as insightful. I think it’s tragic that his legacy is often centered around his “I Have A Dream” speech and little acknowledgement is given to the Poor People’s Campaign and his denouncement of the Vietnam War. There’s an abundance of information contained in these pages, some of which is a bit extra in my opinion. Some places, especially early on through the middle of the autobiography dragged in my opinion. Th ...more
Everett Probasco
The audio book makes this autobiography... the inclusion of the actual audio of significant speeches brings Dr. King's memory to life. The only thing lacking in this book is that I wanted more... I wanted him to talk more about the times he meditated on a viewpoint that he struggled with and how he came to his conclusions (e.g. Opposition to the war in Vietnam, and the decision not to use the slogan "Black Power"). Unfortunately we will never get more... ...more
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Larry Bassett
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, autobiography
This is not an autobiography in the normal sense. It is a gathering of the words that he wrote the tell his story as well as a considerable number of audio recordings of him speaking. He takes us through his life with a focus on his time as a major organizer in the peace and justice movement. There is not much effort made to cover the issues in his life that made him somewhat controversial. This is a positive and admiring view of a man. It definitely gives fair coverage to his dedication to nonv ...more
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Clayborne Carson is professor of history at Stanford University, and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. Since 1985 he has directed the Martin Luther King Papers Project, a long-term project to edit and publish the papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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