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A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  2,138 ratings  ·  100 reviews

Here, in the only major one-volume collection of his writings, speeches, interviews, and autobiographical reflections, is Martin Luther King Jr. on non-violence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love and hope, and more.

Paperback, 702 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by HarperOne (first published 1986)
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 ·  2,138 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Sep 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
i hadn't read 90% of these before. it's too bad that really the only thing most people have heard from King is his "I Have a Dream Speech", because although historically important, there are so many even better things that he wrote and spoke about.

especially good were many of the writings that he did near the end of his life. King did not shrink from deeply questioning capitalism, poverty, and the U.S. military's campaigns around the world. King's campaigns in these areas were just beginning to
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm really enjoying getting to know Martin Luther King, Jr. better. This has also given me a better understanding of the non-violent, passive resistance movement. It is reinforcing my feelings that somehow we need to find a solution to our class problems here in the US. It also reminded me of the fact that although legislation declares rights, it doesn't deliver them. I'm so glad that people, leaders and forces came together in the 60's to start a long-needed movement for civil rights for blacks ...more
robin friedman
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Martin Luther King's Testament Of Hope

First published in 1986, "A Testament of Hope" remains the most comprehensive single-volume edition of the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. The book consists of 57 selections from King's books, essays,sermons, speeches, and interviews, all of which work to give a broad picture of the thinking and accomplishments of this great American civil rights leader.

The book includes works of King that many readers will find familiar including the "I have a Dream" sp
Z. J. Pandolfino
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Martin Luther King Jr. has been sanitized. White-washed. Reduced to a single, ostensibly innocuous phrase that fails to make privileged folks uncomfortable. As Cornel West has said many times before, American political society, and particularly white political society, has sterilized the radically love-oriented philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so that his legacy is palatable and, one might say, unthreatening. As Keith Miller succinctly states in his book, Martin Luther King’s Biblical Ep ...more
Paul Gibson
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I started reading A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. after I was halfway through the autobiography of Malcolm X. It was an interesting contrast. Whereas Malcolm's book is about 450 pages, this one is over 700 pages.
This is a great book. Although I often enjoy books even when I'm not sure yet how to think about them, I generally agree with his attitude and his ways of looking at the world. Although Martin was a Baptist preacher, it was simple for
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Spending time with King's writings and speeches is always time well spent. There are so many moments in here that are moving and thought provoking. One of the aspects that stood out to me was how many parallels there are to situations today -- in particular, there is an area where he talks about the strength of his convictions and not going along with something just because it is politically expedient. Another element that stuck out to me was how King approached ideas or ideologies that he didn' ...more
Levis Keltner
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books from one of the best minds. This collection of speeches, theory, books, and interviews with Dr. King highlights his understanding of the relationship between inequities and social systems that require radical change, not on the grounds of ideology, but moral purpose, which to King means an ethics of love. A call to action and a profound legacy preserved.
Becki Iverson
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great example of why star ratings are so problematic for me. I read a lot of books that I think deserve 4 or 5 star ratings, but there are always a few outliers who are so terrific that it feels unfair to lump them in with the others. This is such a book.

I decided last year to just buy this book and use it as a devotional of sorts, reading a few pages per night. This is one of the best decisions I've made recently. There is SO MUCH WISDOM to be found in these pages. Most of these
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An incredible collection, covering the wide-ranging scope of King's thinking and analysis, most of which we never hear about since he has been restricted to being a Civil Rights leader only, an important role but much narrower than what he was actually doing. King reflected and commented on the economic system, the U.S. international role, the development of other nations, etc., and his thinking remains germane today.

The only criticism I have of this book is that it needed a thicker editorial la
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! This literary composition entail speeches and interview transcripts such as Pilgrimage to Nonviolence (1960), Who Speaks for the South? (1958),If Negro Wins, Labor Wins (1962), Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech (1964) and Meet the Press interview (1966)
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: racism
I wore out my pencil underlining magnificent sentences.

There is a lot of repetition because he was trying to get his message to many people. Therefore I took my time reading this compilation, almost five years, and that worked out great.
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You will not find a greater testament to Martin Luther King’s ideals of equality, justice, and peace than this tome of his writings and speeches. A Testament of Hope is the book I wish I had been required to read in school. Better late than never I suppose.

Read one speech or one section or every word. No matter how much of this book you read, you will get to know a man whose powers of persuasion and sense of morality are unmatched. Every line feels like a gut punch or a resounding call to action
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't read all of this because it is LONG and very comprehensive. But these are great essays and speeches, I do recommend reading it if you want to dive deeper into his work.
Some key messages that come through in his speeches:
1. Nonviolent resistance is necessary, but it is no passive thing. It requires intense effort and dedication. It is not for the fainthearted.
2. The time for equality is now. Every day that passed without positive change, every white person or powerful institution who ask
Mark Hazell
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading for all high school students. One might not agree with everything Dr. King says, but his arguments are clear and worth engaging with in order to develop critical thinking
Peter Wassam
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow wow wow wow wow. The greatest person the USA has ever produced, and I say that as an atheist about a minister. I'm shocked more than anything by how wide-ranging his knowledge was- philosophy, arts, politics, sociology, history. There's never a misplaced word or phrase. What a guy.
Rob S
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, history
It is fitting that I've read this book on Christmas, the day that promotes "Peace on Earth" and "Goodwill to men", two messages that Dr. King always strived for. I've always been a fan of Dr. King's work, and have read a great deal of it before reading A Testament of Hope. I look over to my bookshelf as I write this and I see Why We Can't Wait. However, I've never taken the opportunity until now to read a book that covers the essential writings and speeches of Dr. King. A Testament of Hope deliv ...more
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
A Testament of Hope:
The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr
Editor: James M Washington
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publishing Date:1986
Edition/Volume: 1st
Pgs: 702
Dewey: 973.923 KIN
Disposition: Irving Public Library - South Campus - Irving, TX

Summary: Martin Luther King’s thoughts on nonviolence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, ethics, hope, and more, in his own words. Sermons, interviews, s
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I loved this book! As I read, I uncovered wonderful gems of wisdom spoken so many years ago that have withstood the test of time. I lived through the turbulent years of the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, I was too young and too insulated and isolated (living where I do) to fully comprehend what was going on at the time. The most troubling aspect for me is that although civil rights "progress" has been made through understanding and legislation, we still live in a country where those who a ...more
Johnny D
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the most treasured books in my library, 'A Testament of Hope' is a challenging, provocative, and hopeful anthology of writings from the pen of Martin Luther King Jr. 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' is included, along with excerpts from 'Why We Can't Wait,' popular speeches, and interviews with various publications.

King's capacious mind and fierce courage remain unmatched. His understanding of Christianity was transcendent in all the ways that matter. Today's Evangelicals remain clueless. A
Guillermo Galvan
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've read several of King's books. All of them have been profoundly life changing for me. A Testament of Hope is the ultimate collection of King's writing and speeches in a single book, weighing in at 679 pages.

Despite having read several of his books, I hadn't realized King's full spectrum for social and spiritual freedom until reading this book. It's perfect for anyone who interested in in the man's life and believes that love can change the world. Even for readers who are skeptical about love
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It is easy to know Dr. King as simply an icon, a hero, a figure from the past, but reading his essays, speeches, sermons, and memoirs is a powerful reminder that he was a truly great and extraordinary man, a spiritual leader, a visionary, an unrelenting proponent of nonviolent social transformation, and an advocate for love and justice in all forms. His writing has moved me to tears on more than one occasion. If you are unfamiliar with either his deeds or his writings, stop what you are doing an ...more
I admire the insight this man had into social problems, namely segregation of race and the integration of black America into the norm of everyday life. His work shows a firm command of useful language around the concepts of equality, non-violent resistance, and social organization.

One could translate all his written work on racial inequality from the 20th century directly into Economic Inequality of the world today, and the language, outcomes and values in his writing would be perfectly applicab
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What can I say, other than that this book changed my life!! It has helped me intentionally cultivate a nonviolence stance. I love that it is in order of year so that you can pretty much track his thought as time progressed. Excellent collection!
Jun 05, 2012 added it
I suppose I should let this one fade off the shelves for now, since I'm not going to finish it any time soon. I read about 250 pages, and in the process wrote over 2,000 words in compulsive response. It's that kind of book.

Thanks to the generosity of Goodreads' review section, I'm not going to spare you any of those 2,000 words. You don't have to read them. It's just the kind of blather generated by a great writer.

When you grow up, as I did, in the United States of America, Dr. Martin Luther Kin
Jul 07, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2016-17
I had the opportunity to be a Student Today Leaders Forever bus core for Como Park Senior High School. We went to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. I am happy that I bought the book, The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr that was edited by James M. Washington. The book contains all the writings and speeches that Dr. King made from "I Have A Dream" speech to the interviews "Transcript of 'Face to Face' Television News Interview" in 1967. Although the book is huge and ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve owned this book since I took a class on Martin Luther King, Jr. in college and kept it because I vowed that I would eventually read the entire thing. Well, I finally did read the entire thing, and I’m glad I did. MLK is a popular name to toss around in American politics, but reading his words, it struck me that everyone would be well served by focusing on the entirety of his message and not just a handful of famous quotations. His message for compassion and his belief in the human spirit – ...more
Michelle Leduc Catlin
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It took me about a year and a half, off and on, to read this huge volume, and it has been worth every hour. MLK's words should be required reading for anyone interested in African American history, the struggle for equality, and the current race challenges facing all Americans.

King was brilliant, eloquent, and before his time. His ideas were progressive and inclusive, and opened my eyes to the complexity of the issues and varied voices of the civil rights movement.

This book is fascinating and
Brian Wilde
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think we all know this man and his speeches so I wanted to add a review simply to say that this is the most definitive of his work that I have found. That’s all I wanted to say. That it can be hard to find all of his work in one volume. This is the volume. Enjoy and may that moral arc bend for you toward justice.
Elisha Lawrence
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can’t say enough about the amazing man who wrote these articles, sermons, and books. His life is an inspiration. I hope I am willing to suffer for what I believe in as he did. Thank God for Martin Luther King Jr
Jamie Pennington
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very good and eye opening book. I have a far deeper respect and understand for MLK than ever before.

The ironic point about this is how unfortunately we have made seemingly not enough progress in the last 50 years.
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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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