ebook & audiobook
MLK’s classic account of the first successful large-scale act of nonviolent resistance in America: the Montgomery bus boycott.
A young Dr. King wrote Stride Toward Freedom just 2 years after the successful completion of the boycott. In his memoir about the event, he tells the stories that informed his radical political thinking before, during, and after the boycott—from first witnessing economic injustice as a teenager and watching his parents experience discrimination to his decision to begin working with the NAACP. Throughout, he demonstrates how activism and leadership can come from any experience at any age.
Comprehensive and intimate, Stride Toward Freedom emphasizes the collective nature of the movement and includes King’s experiences learning from other activists working on the boycott, including Mrs. Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin. It traces the phenomenal journey of a community and shows how the 28-year-old Dr. King, with his conviction for equality and nonviolence, helped transform the nation and the world.
This is book 1 in the King Legacy Series. A combination of Dr. Martin Luther King’s writing, speeches, and sermons with additional thoughts from scholars and activists.
Like many, most of my knowledge about Dr. King came from small unit studies during school. While I have gradually learned more over the years, I realize that the information so far has been superficial at best and lacking most of the context needed to appreciate the short quotes posted to the net each year near January 15th.
I think the first thing that struck me is that when the year-long Montgomery bus boycotts started, Dr. King was only 26 years old. While this seemed ancient to 9 year-old me in 4th grade history, as someone who is now closer to 50 – it fills me with great awe. Next would be… *year long*. While it’s impossible for traditional education to fully cover every moment in history, the “bites” we get the 3 times US History is covered, sometimes do it a gross disservice.
Dr. King’s approach in this book is a mixture of historical (the events/situations/culture leading up to the protests), autobiographical, “current” events (this was penned merely 2 years after the boycott ended), sermon, and hope for the future. I was impressed with King’s breadth of reading, experiences, perspectives and faith. I appreciated his ability to closely examine both short term and long term goals for the Black community, Montgomery, the nation as a whole, and those who wished to be allies in the struggle for integration.
I believe that his wisdom reaches beyond the decades since these events and appreciate feeling challenged by his words and approach. I won’t be waiting until next January to listen to more of the series.
I own both the ebook & audiobook versions of this. I think they’re both excellent. There are some photographs included in the ebook that, while they can be found easily on the net, paired with the text offer specific historical context. On the other hand JD Jackson’s narration is impeccable. I can’t imagine what an undertaking it is to bring the writings of such an important figure, one who was known as a great orator himself, to life. In my humble opinion, Jackson does Dr. King’s words, emotions, and personality justice. I’m happy he’s at the helm for other books in the series.
About the author:
More can be learned about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through The King Center
About the narrator:
You can connect with JD Jackson here:
My Favorite Quotes
Note: It’s not possible to post all my favorite quotes, but here are some I found particularly poignant &/or convicting.
“Whenever the church, consciously or unconsciously, caters to one class it loses the spiritual force of the “whosoever will, let him come” doctrine, and is in danger of becoming little more than a social club with a thin veneer of religiosity.”
“Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.”
“The story of Montgomery is the story of 50,000 such Negroes who were willing to substitute tired feet for tired souls, and walk the streets of Montgomery until the walls of segregation were finally battered by the forces of justice.”
“We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to humanity—thus capitalism can lead to a practical materialism that is as pernicious as the materialism taught by communism.”
“If one day you find me sprawled out dead, I do not want you to retaliate with a single act of violence. I urge you to continue protesting with the same dignity and discipline you have shown so far.”
“We must depend on religion and education to alter the errors of the heart and mind; but meanwhile it is an immoral act to compel a man to accept injustice until another man’s heart is set straight”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”