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The Radical King

4.58  ·  Rating details ·  844 ratings  ·  143 reviews
A revealing collection that restores Dr. King as being every bit as radical as Malcolm X

“The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking place in capitalist societies. . . . The response of the radical King to our catastrophic moment can be put in one word: revolution—a revolution in our priorities, a reevalua
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Beacon Press
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Brian Vargo "When a writer does the extensive research necessary to write a factual biology. . . " Fairly sure that should be biography, but you realize that ther…more"When a writer does the extensive research necessary to write a factual biology. . . " Fairly sure that should be biography, but you realize that there's only bits and pieces of West in there introducing words from King. You could pretty much leave West's commentary out and get everything you need to from King himself.(less)

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Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a teacher in a middle school in Japan.
Every year around this time, the 3rd year students come to a part of their textbook dealing with Martin Luther King and civil rights. It mentions Rosa Parks, the March on Washington, and "I have a dream".
These are all really important things in American history(if not too brief in only 3 pages to form any kind of context for Japanese students).
For Americans as well, this is the King we grow up learning about.
This is the King who Republicans, Democr
This book is composed of the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. The speeches were read by actors and for the most part they were pretty good but they did not have the passion of Martin Luther King Jr. Can you imagine being bored by just having narrators read his speeches to you.
I grew up listening to Martin Luther King Jr speak. You could get entranced by the power and passion. It makes actors reading his speeches kind of a downer.
There was a large part that talked about King's admiration for Ma
Scriptor Ignotus
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of those peculiar icons in the constellation of American saints who is underappreciated by virtue of being universally revered. On the third Monday of each year King is liturgically praised by social activists, journalists, celebrities, and politicians across the United States, often in suspiciously pointed and self-congratulatory ways. King’s preoccupations are rendered benevolently naïve and his spiritual agonies morally easy. The epitaph of his moral legacy ...more
Fred P
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I picked this book up, I thought it would be a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr, told by Cornel West. But West barely speaks. He lets the words of Dr. King tell the story.

That story is about a man who moved from a position of fear to sense of fearlessness by finding courage in his spirituality. West selects speeches, letters and writing that show Dr. King's devotion to radical love.

King describes himself as "radical" about love and "militant" about non-violence. His devotion to the caus
John Kaufmann
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a great collection of essays from Martin Luther King Jr. I know there are other such books out there, and they may be just as good. I don't know why I never picked up those books but did this one.

We celebrate MLK's birthday as a national holiday, as we should. I believe Martin Luther King was a truly great man. Most people just think of King as the leader the Civil Rights movement in America. But he was much more than that; people (especially the younger generation who didn't live throu
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent collection of King's own words and some short commentary by West. One of the tragedies of King's legacy is that his words against war and inequality and his strong stance against systemic racism have been whitewashed. Having read most of King's books and speeches, I was a little disappointed that this collection did not include some of his more philosophical and personal accounts and stuck with some of his most famous sermons. But it was still an excellent and essential read ...more
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's amazing how often I have heard him quoted, but never knew those quotes in context. I'm sorry it took me this long to listen to some of his speeches in their entirety.
I was listening to it on audiobook, and Jasmine popped into my room at one point after having overheard most of one of his speeches, and comment on how alarming it was that so many of his points were still incredibly relevant. I had that thought an awful lot myself. In the Beyond Vietnam speech, everything he was saying could
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The radical MLK advocated active nonviolence; ignorance is not nonviolence, it is the acceptance of violence. The radical MLK connected racism with poverty, militarism, and materialism; these conditions are not simply in human’s “nature”, they are constructed, and the radical exposes how and why. The FBI correctly marked MLK as a radical. “I am trying to get at the roots of it to see just what ought to be done.” “Are we integrating into a burning house?”

“It is no accident that just prior to King
robin friedman
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Radical And The Dreamer

April 4, 2018, marked the 50th year commemoration of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was an appropriate occasion to think about King and his importance. Among other ways, King's life was remembered through a revitalization of the Poor People's March in which he had been engaged before his death and by several books, including a book of essays on King's political philosophy "To Shape a New World" edited by Harvard professors Tommie Shelby and Brandon
I find it hard to rate this audiobook - the sections by Cornel West were a 3* (or perhaps even a 2.5*) but the sections that came straight from King's own writings were excellent, averaging 4*. Listening to King's words reminded me why he is such a role model to people of all races and ages.

One complaint: Due to the way the book was organized, sometimes there would be repetition (even word for word repetition) in back-to-back entries. This repetition would have been less notable if the writi
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is outstanding. I listened to the audio version which is read by famous African American actors and narrated by Cornel West. Professor West and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and I read this book because I, like many Americans, often look to King for the elements of his philosophy and methodology that most comport with my own. I thought it was important to look at the elements of Kings philosophy and policy suggestions that are counter to my own, and try to come to g ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An inspiring audio book that reveals the fiery, bold, and humanistic character of Martin Luther King. This was my first exposure to all of these speeches and writings, and it was impossible not to come away feeling like so many of Dr. King’s words could be applied to today’s social climate. His message of radical love, non-violence, and the pursuit of justice for everybody as pertinent then as it is now.

My admiration for the man grew the more I listened and learned about him and his life. How hi
Jordan Ames
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
He is not the watered down activist we were taught about in schools. He was so much more. What an inspiration and absolute gift to have this group of writings from Martin Luther King, Jr. It was thought provoking and illuminating, especially since many of the issues he spoke of are issues we see today.
Joseph Stieb
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An inspiring and well-selected set of speeches and essays by King that does a pretty good job exploring his radicalism. Cornell West, the editor, does a mediocre job defining what exactly made MLK a radical, or in what sense he was one. That's what I want to explore in this review.

MLK was certainly a social democrat, although he didn't define himself in those terms. He was equally critical of unrestrained capitalism and communism, and he called for reorienting society around people rather than t
Great collection of essays, ideas and works from the great Martin Luther King which showed hoe he was truly radical in many ways yet a firm believer in playing within the system rather than outside.

The selected writings shows how MLK was radical and even though someone who believed in working within the system by preaching nonviolence was an advocate of the belief of living in a just society of decency and dignity. King throughout his writings shows how the USA in 1960's was suffering from racis
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Radical King, radical Christian. This man lived the life of radical love modeled by Jesus. It’s this love that was radical, not his politics. His politics seem to be merely reasonable. He understood that achieving justice is more important than rigid adherence to a political or economic ideology. I think Burke would agree.

Here’s a quote from one of his speeches:
“Now we got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love with
Conor Hilton
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. I'd read a couple of these before in a very different context, but many of these essays/speeches/sermons/book chapters were new to me and utterly transformed my understanding of MLK. For awhile now I've been aware of the ways in which I had misunderstood and been mislead by history classes about what sort of figure King was, but this was the first time that I really dug into King's own words to see the extent of his radical politics.

Reading this I was horrified and inspired and provok
Debbie Jacob
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thought-provoking listen made enjoyable by the many famous actors who read key Martin Luther King Jr speeches, articles and letters, which show King in a more radical light. Here, you will find King's finest work "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and "Black Power" in which he discusses his feelings about using this as a slogan when Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) introduced it. Cornel West provides an introduction for each piece of King's writing providing an understanding of King's views in a rad ...more
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew about King's "radical" ideas about poverty and injustice, but it was eye opening to me how much of a role his faith really played into his life and mission. It's kind of crazy that it hadn't occurred to me, given that he was a minister, but I was fascinated to listen to these speeches and writings that detailed how deeply his faith in Christ suffused his actions. He felt compelled to love radically like Christ, and that was at the heart of everything he did.

I'm so glad I read this audio
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must-read! Cornel West appropriately selected letters, articles, book excerpts, and speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the intention of allowing his own words to reclaim his original intent. King today is too often viewed through a white-washed lens, appropriating his message to assuage white guilt and missing his often-radical message. I also highly recommend the audio version. Prominent African American actors, comedians and authors take turn narrating. Instead of distraction, thi ...more
Dalton Erickson
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A collection of speeches and essay's from MLK Jr. that still sends ripples to today. I loved it, but I may be bias for I love MLK. Regardless, I recommend to those who have not gotten to hear the words and ideas of this great American.
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was so powerful. So many ideas that were brilliant. So much of my beliefs in governing philosophies are the same as his.
There were a few times that I felt it was a little preachy (as is to be expected), and there was some religion in passages from speech to speech.
But overall...just wow!
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The audiobook is excellent, but has the danger of very soothing voices.
Rob Bauer
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: civil-rights
This is an outstanding collection of King's writings and speeches, and it does exactly what Dr. West promises: it reveals Martin Luther King, Jr., as one of the true radical figures of 20th century America. His dedication to the Civil Rights Movement requires little description here, but what West's collection of speeches demonstrates is that King was equally committed to economic justice and opposing the Vietnam War.

Giving King the label of Democratic Socialist seems a fair one; after all, King
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous. 100% still applicable today. Great to read.
50 years ago, an assassin killed Martin Luther King. King led the country through the ugliness of civil wrongs connected to the Vietnam War, and we remember him for his Gandhi-like leadership. What is forgotten is his weaponized non-violence and his belief in socialism. Americ beatifies our heroes, which is what we've done with MLK.

This book, edited by Cornel West, is a compilation of King's speeches. The words remind of why I so admired him. The audible version employs a wide variety of actors
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great collection of writings and speeches by Dr. King. The Audible Audio version is underwhelming though. I wish I had bought the hardcopy version.

I have a collection of recordings of Dr. King himself speaking and those are more inspiring, but the sound quality is lousy so it's hard to recommend to people. The readers here decided not to do MLK karaoke and I guess that was wise but then they're just not that great and some are bizarre. What is the point of pronouncing "tyranny" "tire-
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As I read, I kept marking passages for reflection, and to quote to friends. The quotability and aptness of Dr. King's thoughts are not the most significant aspect of this book, however. Dr. West's judicial selection of texts draws a three dimensional portrait of the courageous, insightful and outspoken prophet who was Dr. King. The reassuring saintly figure the mainstream celebrates with a holiday weekend and cliched pieties shrinks before the bold prophet who again and again exposed the injusti ...more
Ron Peters
There has not been a more powerful and stirring orator than Martin Luther King Junior in our lifetime. It is still a moving experience to listen to the words of his ministry, more than fifty years after his assassination. And I can say this even though I am not only not a Christian, but an atheist. Some of the phrases used in the reviews of this book give a good idea of the power that it holds when they speak of King’s “militant agape,” his “weaponized forbearance,” and how he was equally “steep ...more
Adam Ross
A great collection of essays and excerpts from one of the 20th century's greatest men, edited by another great man, Cornel West. This collection is intended to reclaim MLK as he really was and not as white, mainstream culture has sanitized him. Here are his writings on the importance of nonviolence, on civil disobedience and protest, on economics, power, war, and poverty. This is a collection that reclaims MLK as a passionate, committed, and inspired radical - one who both revitalizes the root, ...more
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Tagline "Every Bit As Radical as Malcolm X" Insulting to King? 2 16 Jan 04, 2015 07:08PM  

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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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