MLK: Live blog-ish.


Update: For the archive of Strength to Love posts, click here.

I had the oddest experience as I put up that MLK quote on Friday.

In my search for a link, I found Strength to Love, the source for the quote, on Google Books — and thus saw the passage for the first time in its context. And I had an instant, internal response that went something like: “Huh! It’s a real book!”

I don’t know, exactly, what I meant by that, other than (possibly) that we so often talk about and around Dr. King that we wind up seeing him in bits and pieces, here and there, and rarely take him in anything like his whole, as he presented himself to the world. And that I, apparently, had fallen as readily into that habit as anyone else. I realized that — other than the text of a couple of speeches — I had never read a single thing that he’d written.

So I went to the library and took out Strength to Love, and have been reading it since last night. And it’s doing my head in.

To suggest that I have discovered Dr. King, that I have realized that he was wise, a great thinker, a great writer — that would be to suggest I didn’t know it before. I knew it. I know I knew it.

And yet this book is serving as a kind of revelation for me. It’s one thing to see Dr. King in his bits and pieces, through the eyes of the world in which I came of age and came to activism — it is quite another to read him, in 1963, facing the world that had not yet changed because he had not yet changed it, to read him, to actually read him. There is a wisdom and a greatness here that I only guessed at before. And then I remember: In 1963, when he pulled this collection of sermons together and edited them and published them, some time after (one presumes indeed, some were written as far back as 1955) he had actually written them — he was 34.

That which was stolen from us — the enormity of his future, what he could have yet become — becomes clearer, the sorrow sharper, with every page.

I find myself taking notes, drawing parallels, wanting to quote this book in every response I ever make to anyone on any question of politics, or social justice, ever again; I find myself trying to commit certain passages to memory, reading stuff out loud to the husband, the boy, the girl (who, it should be noted, is all of 6) — I’m all in folks, I’m all in.

So I’ve decided to do something kind of like a live-blog, as I go along. We’ll see how it works out — if enough people tell me that I’m boring them to tears with my geeky hero-worship, I’ll stop! — but I think I’ll be weaving posts about the book here and there among other posts, over the course of a week or so.

I can’t wait to keep reading.

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