Today is the national holiday honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many Americans honor Dr. King with a day of service or volunteering in their communities, but I thought it would also be nice to rediscover the history of civil rights with some interesting readings this week.
From Rosa Park’s work as anti-rape activist in the years before her involvement in the bus boycott to speeches by King’s widow and a noted PBS series, these picks are sure to fascinate you.
On Your Kindle
At the Dark End of the Street, by Danielle L. Maguire
McGuire’s new, groundbreaking history of the civil rights movement examines the role of sexual assault of black women in spurring anti-Jim Crow activism. In the book, she reveals that Rosa Parks was a NAACP rape investigator in the early 1940s-1950s, an aspect of her career that is largely unknown today.
On Your Smartphone
Are you fascinated by historic places from the civil rights movement? Use this website, created by the National Park Services, to find and research locations near you. You’ll find maps, information, and accompanying resources to plan your visit.
On a Podcast
Interested in a first-hand account of the struggle against discrimination? Listen to this podcast speech from Dr. King’s widow, the late Coretta Scott King, about leadership and activism for today. Following her husband’s death, Mrs. King had a long and distinguished career working to spread the ideals of nonviolent activism. Here, she encourages listeners to engage with the world and commit to serving their communities.
Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, by Juan Williams
If you’re a history buff, check out this book, compiled by correspondent Juan Williams as a companion to sections of the landmark 1987 PBS special of the same name. In it, you’ll find an oral history of the civil rights movement, from 1954’s Brown vs. Board of Education to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1965. Topics include desegregation, the Montgomery Bus boycott, and the murder of Emmet Till.
If you enjoy Williams’ work, there’s another series companion, a highly praised collection of original period texts edited by Dr. Claybourne Carson. Carson also edited Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers and is the director of Stanford’s MLK research center.