Brave Words for a Tattered World

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by James M. Washington (1986. Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-064691)

I made a promise to myself, after attending the 2023 MLK Breakfast at the Copper Top Church in Duluth, to find a book of Dr. King’s writings, speeches, and theories regarding race relations and discrimination and read it. I picked up this very exhaustive collection from our local Barnes and Noble and, over the past year, with an eye towards completing my read by MLK Day 2024, got to work. I missed finishing the book by my deadline by a week but I am ever so glad I undertook the task.

What did I learn by reading this tome? I learned that King’s brilliance, though at times repetitive in theme, shines through his words and establishes guidelines for how we should be working towards equity amongst the races and the poor in America and the world. Along the way, King details his theories of non-violent change based upon principles pronounced in Christianity and by Ghandi; why he, as a minister of the Gospels, decided to vocalize his personal opposition to the Vietnam War; and why the uptick of violence in the inner cities of America following the passage of Civil Rights legislation was, while regrettable and not in keeping with his pleas for social and electoral change through sit-ins, boycotts, and other non-violent protest, completely understandable yet avoidable.

I came away from reading this collection convinced that not only was Dr. King a leader of a movement; he was a brilliant thinker and strategist whose lessons and thoughts are as applicable to our tortured race relations today as they were during his oh-too-short-life.

Beautiful prose and succinct reasoning.

5 stars out of 5. A textbook for nonviolence. 


No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin (2018. Recorded Books.)

This was another of my YMCA workout “listens”. I’ve been a fan of Le Guin since taking a political science class at the University of Minnesota-Duluth concerning utopias. I picked up one of her early science fiction titles (The Left Hand of Darkness perhaps?) as part of that class and wrote a paper on it. Here, Le Guin, very shortly before her death in January of 2018, collected a number of essays on a variety of topics ranging from literary awards, writing, science fiction, the F-word, cats, marriage, and a smattering of other seemingly unrelated topics into a fanciful, humorous, yet poignant whole. While not as thought provoking or entertaining as the best of her fiction (I still consider her Earthsea series to be the gold standard of fantasy), there’s enough in here to keep any Le Guin lover (or anyone simply interested in her thought process) entertained while walking the track, the dog, or simply chilling in the car.

4 stars out of 5.



About Mark

I'm a reformed lawyer and author.
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