April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death and How It Changed America

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death and How It Changed America

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by Michael Eric Dyson
     
 

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No matter who killed him-a bigoted gunman, conspiring gangsters, or renegade government forces-Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life was an anxious and dramatic march to the grave. Of course, all humans are born to die. But King knew that in all likelihood he would go earlier and more violently than most. He exhausted himself uplifting his country and race, but hateful

Overview

No matter who killed him-a bigoted gunman, conspiring gangsters, or renegade government forces-Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life was an anxious and dramatic march to the grave. Of course, all humans are born to die. But King knew that in all likelihood he would go earlier and more violently than most. He exhausted himself uplifting his country and race, but hateful forces hounded him to his last breath.

King's ultimate sacrifice made America a better country. His dream has been richly explored, and exploited. His birthday is celebrated as a national holiday. But his challenge to America has frozen beneath an avalanche of amnesia. King's date of death shivers in frosty abandonment. It is clearly easier to salute a hero than face a martyr. That is especially true when his death reminds us of our demons and our unachieved potential.

Facing King may not be all bad. We may meet the man who already knew, and forgave, our wrongdoing. We may also see the leader who asks us to use his death to better our country. King used the unavoidable fact of death to argue for social change and measure our commitment to truth. There is a lot to be learned in how King feared and faced death, and fought it too. What we make of his death may determine what we make of his legacy and our future.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, Dyson (sociology, Georgetown Univ.; I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King Jr.) further evaluates the civil rights martyr and his legacy. His previous work on King focused on King's hijacked radical legacy. Here, in his 16th book, he mainly focuses on how King's vision continues to influence how blacks measure the promise and fulfillment of the Christian and civic equality that he preached. Dyson shows how King's bold and charismatic prophecy left a daunting model for any aspiring black leader to live up to. Examining Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Barack Obama, Dyson probes the deep shadow in which these leaders operate as he reiterates the continued resonance of King's productive martyrdom and his call for transformative social justice and racial redemption. Thoughtful and provocative, this book brings to bear Dyson's characteristic challenge to both scholars and general readers to see black life in America as it is and to move forward to improve it-and America. Recommended for collections on black history or leadership, civil rights, social justice, or contemporary America.
—Thomas J. Davis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781433246166
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio Inc
Publication date:
04/04/2008
Edition description:
Unabridged, 5 CDs, 6 hrs. 25 min.
Pages:
5
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 5.12(h) x 0.71(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Eric Dyson, named by Ebony as one of the hundred most influential black Americans, is the author of sixteen books, including Holler If You Hear Me, Is Bill Cosby Right? and I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. He is currently University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.

www.michaelericdyson.com

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April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death and How It Changed America 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christyscmh16 More than 1 year ago
Michael Eric Dyson is best-known for his words. An incredibly well-spoken man, this book presents a delicious word smorgasbord that - and even though I say this as an English major, unfortunately, even had me running for a dictionary several times. And head's up for any of you who also cringe at grammatical error - there are a few typo's in the book.

In any case, Dyson offers an interesting take on Martin Luther King's death and the impact that it had on America, both its positive and negative elements. Dyson comments on King's character, powerful oratory, a brief family history as well as the numerous causes he stood behind. He event hints at a possible government conspiracy as the cause of King's death stating several incidents where the president of the time refused to protect him or even warn King of impending danger at death threats being called in for him. In addition, Dyson concentrates on statistics - both from the late 60's when King was assassinated as well as today - to represent the changes that America has produced since King's death.

I was blown away at the chapter on Jesse Jackson, however, though confused on Dyson's standpoint in regards to it. Dyson informs the reader that directly following King's murder, he instructed others not to speak to the media. After telling all of them that he wasn't feeling well, Abernathy (one of King's right-hand men) spotted Jackson speaking with the media himself, in his desperate attempt to fill King's shoes, claiming that he was the very last person that King ever spoke to - a blatant lie, as Abernathy knew that King had spoken to another associate before taking his last breath. Dyson also draws attention to the blood on Jackson's shirt and that he was never on the balcony during the actual shooting, but rather directly after. Dyson suggests Jackson having dipped his hands in King's blood and wiping them on his shirt in a sort of biblical fashion as Christian's are to drink Christ's blood during communion in honor and remembrance. I was intrigued with all of this new information - and curious as to the authors thoughts, but he remains fluctuant on the subject and I felt ultimately unsatisfied with the chapter.

In keeping with the times, not only does Dyson reference Jackson, King's initial predecessor, he also has a chapter dedicated to Barack Obama, of whom he calls the "Black Kennedy." Not only does he mention the great feat the country has reached in having a black man for nominee, but he also focuses on the changes that Obama is promoting for his current political campaign and how he shares many of King's visions.

Finally, Dyson finishes up with an incredibly odd mock-interview with himself posing as Martin Luther King and answering questions regarding America today. While we, as a people, can certainly wonder what King would think of both our progress and backsliding over the years since he was alive, I have a hard time with thinking this "interview" to be anything but strange.

With all of the additional information and people who appear in this book, there were several times I had to remind myself that the focus of this book was on the death of Martin Luther King and the changes that it brought about. The reader can become easily lost in the extra's as Dyson ignites several tangents, straying from the main point of the book.

In retrospect, kind of scattered layout, but a pretty interesting read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Eric Dyson is best-known for his words. An incredibly well-spoken man, this book presents a delicious word smorgasbord that - and even though I say this as an English major, unfortunately, even had me running for a dictionary several times. And head's up for any of you who also cringe at grammatical error - there are a few typo's in the book. In any case, Dyson offers an interesting take on Martin Luther King's death and the impact that it had on America, both its positive and negative elements. Dyson comments on King's character, powerful oratory, a brief family history as well as the numerous causes he stood behind. He event hints at a possible government conspiracy as the cause of King's death stating several incidents where the president of the time refused to protect him or even warn King of impending danger at death threats being called in for him. In addition, Dyson concentrates on statistics - both from the late 60's when King was assassinated as well as today - to represent the changes that America has produced since King's death. I was blown away at the chapter on Jesse Jackson, however, though confused on Dyson's standpoint in regards to it. Dyson informs the reader that directly following King's murder, he instructed others not to speak to the media. After telling all of them that he wasn't feeling well, Abernathy (one of King's right-hand men) spotted Jackson speaking with the media himself, in his desperate attempt to fill King's shoes, claiming that he was the very last person that King ever spoke to - a blatant lie, as Abernathy knew that King had spoken to another associate before taking his last breath. Dyson also draws attention to the blood on Jackson's shirt and that he was never on the balcony during the actual shooting, but rather directly after. Dyson suggests Jackson having dipped his hands in King's blood and wiping them on his shirt in a sort of biblical fashion as Christian's are to drink Christ's blood during communion in honor and remembrance. I was intrigued with all of this new information - and curious as to the authors thoughts, but he remains fluctuant on the subject and I felt ultimately unsatisfied with the chapter. In keeping with the times, not only does Dyson reference Jackson, King's initial predecessor, he also has a chapter dedicated to Barack Obama, of whom he calls the 'Black Kennedy.' Not only does he mention the great feat the country has reached in having a black man for nominee, but he also focuses on the changes that Obama is promoting for his current political campaign and how he shares many of King's visions. Finally, Dyson finishes up with an incredibly odd mock-interview with himself posing as Martin Luther King and answering questions regarding America today. While we, as a people, can certainly wonder what King would think of both our progress and backsliding over the years since he was alive, I have a hard time with thinking this 'interview' to be anything but strange. With all of the additional information and people who appear in this book, there were several times I had to remind myself that the focus of this book was on the death of Martin Luther King and the changes that it brought about. The reader can become easily lost in the extra's as Dyson ignites several tangents, straying from the main point of the book. In retrospect, kind of scattered layout, but a pretty interesting read.