Hello friends. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Usually we are home attending our school’s Day of Service, but today we are in Manhattan after a weekend of visiting family, friends, and amazing independent bookstores. I got up late on our last day here, but in honor of MLK Day, here are quotes from books not just about him but about civil rights and overcoming discrimination. Hope you all take a moment to contemplate civil and equal rights today, although I know for many this is just a day of vacation or an excuse to shop a One-Day Sale.
“You don’t have to live next to me, just give me my equality.” –Nina Simone, “Mississippi Goddam”
I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. (illustrated by Kadir Nelson)
“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Letter from the Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
“So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.”
“Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
“Jim [Lawson] talked about the Montgomery bus boycott, about war resistance, about nonviolence. He spoke of Gandhi, this little brown man from India using the way of nonviolence to free an entire nation of people.”
“We wanted to change America –to make it something different, something better… There were so many of us to arrest that as they drove us off to jail, we filled every paddy wagon the police had in Nashville. “
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
We’d seen the pictures of a bunch of really mad white people with twisted-up faces screaming and giving dirty finger signs to some little Negro kids who were trying to go to school. I’d seen the pictures but I didn’t really know how these white people could hate some kids so much.
“I’ve often told you that as Negroes the world is many times a hostile place for us.” I saw Mr. Alums walking back and forth whacking a yardstick in his hand. “I’ve pointed out time and time again how vital it is that one be able to read well.”
Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine
“So far as having fear, we didn’t even know what fear was. We just had our minds set on freedom, and that was it.”
“We were in jail about four days. I remember after that, I wasn’t really frightened. I was just determined more than ever that some changes had to be made.”