Why We Can't Wait [NOOK Book]

Overview

Dr. King’s best-selling account of the civil rights movement in Birmingham during the spring and summer of 1963
 
In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States, but the campaign launched by Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action. 
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Why We Can't Wait

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Overview

Dr. King’s best-selling account of the civil rights movement in Birmingham during the spring and summer of 1963
 
In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States, but the campaign launched by Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action. 
 
Often applauded as King’s most incisive and eloquent book, Why We Can’t Wait recounts the Birmingham campaign in vivid detail, while underscoring why 1963 was such a crucial year for the civil rights movement. King examines the history of the civil rights struggle and the tasks that future generations must accomplish to bring about full equality. The book also includes the extraordinary “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which King wrote in April of 1963.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Now, King stands resolutely in the public's mind, a moral force for the ages. Back in the day, his call to justice was a thorny issue. This book caused a stir when originally published, challenging leaders of white and black America to act. For King, the experiences in Birmingham were a crucible for the nation.
From the Publisher
“No child should graduate from high school without having read this book. In telling the story of the third American Revolution, it is as integral to American history as the Declaration of Independence.”—Jesse Jackson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807001134
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 1/11/2011
  • Series: King Legacy
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 82,499
  • File size: 190 KB

Meet the Author

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the greatest orators in U.S. history. The author of several books, including Stride Toward Freedom (Beacon / 0069-4 / $14.00 pb), Where Do We Go from Here (Beacon / 0067-0 / $14.00 pb), and The Trumpet of Conscience (Beacon / 0071-7 / $22.00 hc), King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. 
 
Dorothy Cotton is the former education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and she worked closely with Dr. King on teaching nonviolence and citizenship education.
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Read an Excerpt

I had planned to submit myself to imprisonment two or three days after our demonstrations began. It didn’t take long after returning to Birmingham, however, to recognize the existence of a problem that made it unwise and impractical for me to go to jail before something had been done to solve it.
 
We had been forced to change our timetable twice. We had had to make a strategic retreat until after the run-off and had lost contact with the community for several weeks. We had returned now to a city whose political power structure was divided. We had returned to find that our own people were not united. There was tremendous resistance to our program from some of the Negro ministers, businessmen and professionals in the city. This opposition did not exist because these Negroes did not want to be free. It existed for several other reasons.
 
The Negro in Birmingham, like the Negro elsewhere in this nation, had been skillfully brainwashed to the point where he had accepted the white man’s theory that he, as a Negro, was inferior. He wanted to believe that he was the equal of any man; but he didn’t know where to begin or how to resist the influences that had conditioned him to take the line of least resistance and go along with the white man’s views. He knew that there were exceptions to the white man’s evaluation: a Ralph Bunche, a Jackie Robinson, a Marian Anderson. But to the Negro, in Birmingham and in the nation, the exception did not prove the rule.
 
Another consideration had also affected the thinking of some of the Negro leaders in Birmingham. This was the widespread feeling that our action was illtimed, and that we should have given the new Boutwell government a chance. Attorney General Robert Kennedy had been one of the first to voice this criticism. The Washington Post, which covered Birmingham from the first day of our demonstrations, had editorially attacked our “timing.” In fact, virtually all the coverage in the national press at first had been negative, pictur ing us as irresponsible hotheads who had plunged into a situation just when Birmingham was getting ready to change overnight into Paradise. The sudden emergence of our protest seemed to give the lie to this vision.
 
In Montgomery, during the bus boycott, and in the Albany, Georgia, campaign, we had had the advantage of a sympathetic and understanding national press from the outset. In Birmingham we did not. It is terribly difficult to wage such a battle without the moral support of the national press to counteract the hostility of local editors. The words “bad timing” came to be ghosts haunting our every move in Birmingham. Yet people who used this argument were ignorant of the background of our planning. They did not know we had postponed our campaign twice. They did not know our reason for attacking in time to affect Easter shopping. Above all they did not realize that it was ridiculous to speak of timing when the clock of history showed that the Negro had already suffered one hundred years of delay.
 
Not only were many of the Negro leaders affected by the administration’s position, but they were themselves indulging in a false optimism about what would happen to Birmingham under the new government. The situation had been critical for so many years that, I suppose, these people felt that any change represented a giant step toward the good. Many truly believed that once the influence of Bull Connor had faded, everything was going to be all right.
 
Another reason for the opposition within the Negro community was resentment on the part of some groups and leaders because we had not kept them informed about the date we planned to begin or the strategy we would adopt. They felt that they were being pulled in on something they had no part in organizing. They did not realize that, because of the local political situation, we had been forced to keep our plans secret.
 
We were seeking to bring about a great social change which could only be achieved through unified effort. Yet our community was divided. Our goals could never be attained in such an atmosphere. It was decided that we would conduct a whirlwind campaign of meetings with organizations and leaders in the Negro community, to seek to mobilize every key person and group behind our movement.
 
Along with members of my staff, I began addressing numerous groups representing a cross section of our people in Birmingham. I spoke to 125 business and professional people at a call meeting in the Gaston Building. I talked to a gathering of two hundred ministers. I met with many smaller groups, during a hectic oneweek schedule. In most cases, the atmosphere when I entered was tense and chilly, and I was aware that there was a great deal of work to be done.
 
I went immediately to the point, explaining to the business and professional men why we had been forced to proceed without letting them know the date in advance. I dealt with the argument of timing. To the ministers I stressed the need for a social gospel to supplement the gospel of individual salvation. I suggested that only a “dry as dust” religion prompts a minister to extol the glories of heaven while ignoring the social conditions that cause men an earthly hell. I pleaded for the projection of strong, firm leadership by the Negro minister, pointing out that he is freer, more independent, than any other person in the community. I asked how the Negro would ever gain his freedom without the guidance, support and inspiration of his spiritual leaders.
 
I challenged those who had been persuaded that I was an “outsider.” I pointed out that Fred Shuttlesworth’s Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights was an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and that the Shuttlesworth group had asked S.C.L.C. to come to Birmingham, and that as president of S.C.L.C., I had come in the interests of aiding an S.C.L.C. affiliate.
 
I expanded further on the weary and worn “outsider” charge, which we have faced in every community where we have gone to try to help. No Negro, in fact, no American, is an outsider when he goes to any community to aid the cause of freedom and justice. No Negro anywhere, regardless of his social standing, his financial status, his prestige and position, is an outsider so long as dignity and decency are denied to the humblest black child in Mississippi, Alabama or Georgia.
 
The amazing aftermath of Birmingham, the sweeping Negro Revolution, revealed to people all over the land that there are no outsiders in all these fifty states of America. When a police dog buried his fangs in the ankle of a small child in Birmingham, he buried his fangs in the ankle of every American. The bell of man’s inhumanity to man does not toll for any one man. It tolls for you, for me, for all of us.
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Table of Contents

Introduction by Dorothy Cotton
1964 Introduction by Martin Luther King, Jr.
I The Negro Revolution—Why 1963?
II The Sword That Heals 21
III Bull Connor’s Birmingham 47
IV New Day in Birmingham 63
V Letter from Birmingham Jail 85
VI Black and White Together 111
VII The Summer of Our Discontent 129
VIII The Days to Come
Selected Bibliography
Index
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2007

    A necessity for the American reader

    This book, which intimately captures the tactics and tensions of the Civil Rights Movement, is easily one of the most compelling arguments for social equality in all of American political writing.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Allie

    Ok wait not slow i wann marry u jimmy:)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Laine's Review:  ¿No person has the right to rain on your dream

    Laine's Review: 

    “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” 

    “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power;
    religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.
    The two are not rivals.” 

    “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” 

    And the famous......

    “I Had a Dream....”

    And can never forget.....

    "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last."

    ¿If you don't know the voice to these quotes then you need to either go back to school or locate your library
    as quick as you can. The visionist who, with courage, spoke these words to the ears of every person on the
    planet. Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. as you know is well known for his speaking for civil rights
    movement in the time when folks didn't "get along well with other" because of the skin color. Back in the day
    it was unheard of for White folk and Black folks could be seen together in a public place; for them to sit
    casually in a resturant and just eat breakfast. Today...we hardly ever have this problem. Kids in school can
    understand what their teachers mean by "segregated" "racial differences". To fully understand what really
    happened back in the day, what took place and how the "people" felt it's always best to go to a non-fiction book.
    And I, as your librarian, have the perfect book for the young minds that are trying to understand who, what,
    where when and the why. Why We Can't Wait by the man himself, Martin Luther King Jr.

    Why We Can't Wait talks about the Birmingham, Alabama (which was well known as the most racially
    segregated city in the United States at that time) druing the 1963 which was a very crucial year for the civil
    rights movement. King demonstrated with many other outspoken people to the world the power of nonviolent
    direct action by examining the history of the civil rights struggle and the tasks that furture generations (like us)
    must accomplish to bring about full equality.

    The other reason why this book is perfect for young minds trying to understand what went on during that
    time frame is that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote most of this book was written along with a "Letter from
    Birmingham Jail" King wrote in April of 1963. Trying to get inside the mind of one of the great outspoken
    leaders of our time? Try your local library and ask about Martin Luther King Jr. You might find something
    you weren't even looking for!!! 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    Allie

    Kristen result one

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2011

    Review

    AMAZING! I LOVE DR KING!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted February 20, 2011

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    Posted June 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted November 21, 2011

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    Posted March 23, 2011

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    Posted February 7, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2011

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