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A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,778 Ratings  ·  82 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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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
Paul Gibson
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Taylor 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
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)
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
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, favorites
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Rick Folker
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
to understand the civil rights movement of the 1960's, this is a must read
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"True peace is not merely the absence of some negative force-tension, confusion or war; it is the presence of some positive force-justice, good will and brotherhood."
Loved the 3 different translations/definitions of 'love', eros, philia, and agape. I feel like I can truly use what he taught in my life now with everyone around me.
"I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world."
"...I say to you, my friends, that even though we must face the difficulties o
Dec 14, 2010 marked it as to-read
1) Nonviolence and Racial Justice (1957)
2) The Most Durable Power (1958)
3) The Power of Nonviolence (1958)
4) An Experiment in Love (1958)
5) Speech Before the Youth March for Integrated Schools (1959)
6) My Trip to the Land of Gandhi (1959)
7) The Social Organization of Nonviolence (1959)
8) Pilgrimage to Nonviolence (1960)
9) Suffering and Faith (1960)
10) Love, Law, and Civil Disobedience (1961)
11) Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom (1966)
12) A Gift of Love (1966)
13) Showdown for Nonviolence (196
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book within a book!! Contains every speech, books, letters, interviews, and historic essays written by Dr. Martin Luther King. He relied on the concept of “love” and non-violence to try and achieve civil rights for humanity. At that time, This was the basic philosophy that guided the movement. What is revealed in this book is that he believed bitterness and hatred by both races is a malignant cancer. Like others, I was most familiar with the “I Have A Dream” speech. However, this book is a tre ...more
Robert Palmer
Most people think of Martin Luther King, Jr. only as a civil rights leader, and though they might acknowledge that he was also a minister of the gospel, they would never think of him as one of the great Christian thinkers of history. Even a cursory reading his speeches and other writings reveals a deep thinker whose ideas are clearly grounded in Scripture. Dr. King believed that authentic Christians live by the gospel and don't merely pay lip service to it. He even predicted the decline of the c ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
While reading the speeches and writings of Dr. King I became attuned to his remarkable brilliance as an academic. In public education, I learned about the historic speech on the national mall and the montgomery bus boycotts. I am now in my mid-twenties, attending an ivy league graduate school and have dedicated a good portion of my life and admiration to scholarship. With this in mind, I re-visited the works of my idol (Dr. King) and developed the new appreciation for his intellectual brilliance ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are deep wells here,

This is a compilation of several of Dr. King's works, from sermons to selections from several of Dr. King's books. I must admit that I am impressed with the realistic dream that Dr. King had/has. Often I feel Dr. King's vision of non-violence and dedication to justice is boiled down to a very naive idealism. After reading 679 pages of Dr. King, that simply is not true. Dr.King had a very real and realistic view of the world he and we lived in, he knew the difficulties t
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Esiste una strada per la libertà e la giustizia e ha il suo principio nelle scelte individuali, che sommate a quelle di altri individui affini divengono collettive. Quando la scelta diventa azione essa si evolve in politica, nel senso più elevato, puro ma altresì pragmatico del termine. La lettura di questo libro, che travolge tra le righe e gli interstizi di un discorso di profonda umanità, porta alla comprensione parossistica del pensiero filosofico e umano di Martin Luther King (Jr.): la spin ...more
Eric Ogi
Feb 21, 2012 marked it as to-read
"Let this affirmation be our ringing cry. It will give us the courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of ...more
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
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
This is an amazing man. I chose this book over his biography so I could get a more intimate look into his mind and a look in his eyes at the civil rights movement. His voice, his writings and his thinking is so powerful, educated and awe-inspiring. I'm glad to spend this month of his birthday to read about this amazing history changing man. I truly wish he lived to a ripe old age. The entire world would be a better place for it.
Garth Richards
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read the entire book but no book collection is complete without some material written by Martin Luther King Jr.! The first three chapters blew me away. He talks about how when you are having a revolution against evil and tyranny you don't fight evil by using evil tactics. "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil by good"
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent source for materials written by Dr. King. It includes sermons, philosophy, essays, all of his books and an interview. I dip into this book often during the year. It is never far from my desk. Reading this helps us to get past the stereotype and find the real Martin King and what he stood for.
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
You can't sit down and read straight through this one, but a piece at a time...fascinating. The man was an incredible writer, not always the person you think he was. I was surprised to realize just how young he was when he died, especially given how much writing is in this volume.
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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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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 67802 likes
“I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear.” 7668 likes
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