Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Are we at last one nation, with liberty and justice for all? In this ebook, we reflect on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, and assess their efforts to overcome racial discrimination and to promote racial equality and integration. The first chapter explores the origins and traditions of the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration, with particular attention to the American character of the holiday. The second chapter presents powerful accounts of the black American experience during the era of racial segregation—from Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Zora Neale Hurston, to Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin—with a focus on showing the need for civil rights. The third chapter brings us to the Civil Rights Movement itself, evaluating the goals, strategies, and tactics of the Movement's various leaders. The final chapter raises questions about the challenging and vexed issues left open in the wake of the successes of the Civil Rights Movement: equality; family, religion, and culture; and identity. For more stories, speeches, and songs, or to learn more about the What So Proudly We Hail project, head to www.WhatSoProudlyWeHail.org.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: An American Holiday 

The Origins and Traditions of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
A Brief History of the Civil Rights Movement
Dwight D. Eisenhower, "On the Situation in Little Rock: A Radio and Television Address to the American People"
Lyndon B. Johnson, "To Fulfill These Rights: Commencement Address at Howard University"
Stevie Wonder, "Happy Birthday"
Ronald Reagan, Remarks on Signing the Bill Making the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a National Holiday
William Jefferson Clinton, Remarks on Signing the King Holiday and Service Act
Barack Obama, Remarks at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication

The African American Experience and the Need for Civil Rights

Frederick Douglass, "The Civil Rights Cases"
W. E. B. Du Bois, "On Being Crazy"
Booker T. Washington, "My View of Segregation Laws"
W. E. B. Du Bois, "Of the Coming of John," from The Souls of Black Folk
James Baldwin, "Stranger in the Village," from Notes of a Native Son
Ralph Ellison, "The Battle Royal," from Invisible Man
Zora Neale Hurston, "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"
James Baldwin, From Notes of a Native Son
Langston Hughes, "One Friday Morning"
John O. Killens, "God Bless America"
Junius Edwards, "Liars Don't Qualify"

The Civil Rights Movement

The Movement and Its Goals
Freedom Songs
     "Lift Every Voice and Sing"
     "Onward, Christian Soldiers"
     "We Shall Overcome"
     "This Little Light of Mine"
     "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize"
     "Oh, Freedom"
Martin Luther King Jr., "I Have a Dream"
Diane Oliver, "Neighbors"
Zora Neale Hurston, Letter to the Orlando Sentinel
Martin Luther King Jr., "Eulogy for the Martyred Children"
Leon R. Kass, Letter on the Civil Rights Movement
Martin Luther King Jr., "I've Been to the Mountaintop"

Movement Tactics and Strategy
Martin Luther King Jr., "The Power of Nonviolence"
     Appendix: "Commitment Card," Alabama Christian Movement for Civil Rights
Lee Martin, "The Welcome Table"
Anthony Grooms, "Food That Pleases, Food to Take Home"
A Group of Clergymen, "A Call for Unity"
Martin Luther King Jr., "Letter from Birmingham Jail"
Joseph H. Jackson, Address to the 1964 National Baptist Convention
Malcolm X, "The Ballot or The Bullet"
Diana Schaub, "Solve for X"

Civil Rights, Race, and the American Republic: Today and Tomorrow

Racial Discrimination and Affirmative Action
Earl Warren, Brown v. Board of Education
John G. Roberts, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District
Shelby Steele, "Affirmative Action," from The Content of Our Character

The Pursuit of Equality
Kurt Vonnegut Jr., "Harrison Bergeron"
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action"
Thomas Sowell, "The Mirage of Equality," from The Quest for Cosmic Justice

Family, Religion, and Culture
Juan Williams, From Enough
Cornel West, "The Moral Obligations of Living in a Democratic Society"
Gerald Early, "Dreaming of a Black Christmas"
Alice Walker, "Everyday Use"

Identity
Henry Louis Gates Jr., "Growing Up Colored"
John McWhorter, "How Can We Save the African-American Race?," from Losing the Race
Stephen L. Carter, "The Black Table, the Empty Suit, and the Tie"
Shelby Steele, "Race-Holding," from The Content of Our Character

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About the Author

 

Leon R.
Kass
  • Leon R. Kass, M.D., is the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and the Madden-Jewett Chair at AEI. He was the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005. He has been engaged for more than 40 years with ethical and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advances and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues. His most recent book, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song, seeks to promote American identity, character and citizenship. Along with co-editors Amy Kass and Diana Schaub, Dr. Kass is presently working to expand this project by creating video discussions and curricula materials that demonstrate how short stories can be used to enhance our understanding of the Meaning of America.
  • Phone: 202-862-7156
    Email: lkass@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Caroline Kitchens
    Phone: 202-862-5820
    Email: caroline.kitchens@aei.org

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

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Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

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Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

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