The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

edited by Clayborne Carson (selected chapters online)  

From the publisher:   A professor of history and the noted author and editor of several books on the civil rights struggle, Dr. Clayborne Carson was selected by the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to edit and publish Dr. King's papers. Drawing upon an unprecedented archive of King's own words –including unpublished letters and diaries, as well as video footage and recordings — Dr. Carson creates an unforgettable self-portrait of Dr. King. In his own vivid, compassionate voice, here is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as student, minister, husband, father, and world leader…as well as a rich, moving chronicle of a people and a nation in the face of powerful-and still resonating-change.

Book Description from    Celebrated Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson is the director and editor of the Martin Luther King Papers Project; with thousands of King's essays, notes, letters, speeches, and sermons at his disposal, Carson has organized King's writings into a posthumous autobiography. In an early student essay, King prophetically penned: "We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance…. We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime." Such statements, made throughout King's career, are skillfully woven together into a coherent narrative of the quest for social justice. The autobiography delves, for example, into the philosophical training King received at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University, where he consolidated the teachings of Afro-American theologian Benjamin Mays with the philosophies of Locke, Rousseau, Gandhi, and Thoreau. Through King's voice, the reader intimately shares in his trials and triumphs, including the Montgomery Boycott, the 1963 "I Have a Dream Speech," the Selma March, and the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. In one of his last speeches, King reminded his audience that "in the final analysis, God does not judge us by the separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives." Carson's skillful editing has created an original argument in King's favor that draws directly from the source, illuminating the circumstances of King's life without deifying his person. –Eugene Holley Jr.

The following selected chapters are available free of charge in web page format as part of the King Papers project at Stanford University.  (You can purchase a printed copy of this book in countries around the world by clicking on the name of your country or a country near you, in the list that appear above the cover image.)


1. Early Years

2. Morehouse College

3. Crozer Seminary

4. Boston University

5. Coretta

6. Dexter Avenue Baptist Church

7. Montgomery Movement Begins

8. The Violence of Desperate Men

10. The Expanding Struggle

11. Birth of a New Nation

12. Brush with Death

13. Pilgrimage to Nonviolence

14. The Sit-In Movement

15. Atlanta Arrest and Presidential Politics

16. The Albany Movement



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The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.