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Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty Years On

Posted on 3rd April 2018 by Martha Greengrass

As we commemorate fifty years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. we present an icon of the civil rights movement in his own words. 

‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly… Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.’ – Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. 

A momentous commemoration, today marks fifty years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.. Now, half a decade on, in a timely re-issue by Penguin, two volumes provide an essential introduction to a crucial turning point in the civil rights movement and an arresting wake-up call to the need for civilian action against oppression today. For those looking to dive straight in, King's historic Letter from Birmingham Jail is now available in a £1 paperback, as part of the excellent new Penguin Modern series. Immediate and personal, it’s a letter full of hope and righteous anger; the voice of a man unafraid to challenge complacency and demand a better, fairer world. A book that can and should be read by all, it's a powerful, pocket-sized catalyst for action. A reminder of the power of words as a force for protest, this is writing alive with the force and fire of the need to demand change not someday, but now.

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This landmark missive from one of the greatest activists in history calls for direct, non-violent resistance in the fight against racism, and reflects on the healing power of love. Part of Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour.
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A landmark publication, Why We Can’t Wait records, in King’s own words, the tumultuous events surrounding the 1963 campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. Strikingly fresh, it brings to life a moment of reckoning for King’s leadership and the future of civil rights; a moment that turned the political tide shifted global public opinion and, ultimately, paved the way for the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act. As relevant today as when it was written, it’s a book that resonates with issues still governing debate in America and globally: political tumult, racism, violence, poverty, populism and protest as a tool for revolution.

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Here Martin Luther King, Jr. recounts the pivotal events in the city of Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 that propelled his non-violent campaign for racial justice to a phenomenon. As inspiring and resonant as it was upon publication, it is both a unique historical document, and an enduring testament to one man's wise, courageous and endlessly hopeful vision.
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