Sunday, January 17, 2010

MLK & Black History Month Mini Reading Challenge

I would like to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History month by reading some related materials.

My list includes: 

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. by Michael Eric Dyson

Dyson peels away the superficial image of King the man to reveal a complex human being whose work was far from finished or totally understood. "In the last thirty years we have trapped King in romantic images or frozen his legacy in worship," he writes. "I seek to rescue King from his admirers and deliver him from his foes." To that end, Dyson takes aim at neoconservatives like Shelby Steele, who spin King's multiracial dreams into a right-wing call to end affirmative action, and goes after black militants who thought King was "soft" and overlooked the power of his "black radical Christianity." He also criticizes the government's co-opting of King's philosophy in a holiday, as well as what he calls the King family's well-meaning, but destructive, attempts to protect King's legacy. Dyson forces us to accept King for all of his faults--including plagiarism and womanizing--but more importantly allows us to see a real human being who rose to the height of humanity. --Eugene Holley, Jr.

Yes, I am co opting the holiday of Martin Luther and Black History month for my own nefarious ends. But that's why I'm reading this book, to help open up my eyes and see King as he was and how he would want to be remembered.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers a powerful portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master's abuse and her eventual escape, in a tale of dauntless spirit and faith.

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by James M. Washington

I may add a few more, but for now this is a good start...granted I won't be able to read all of the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. but I hope to get a good sampling in!

This challenge is really for myself to keep me motivated and accountable and a place to ramble about my discoveries...but feel free to join in if you want to and grab the button and link back here. This will run through til the end of February! Wish me luck!


  1. What a great idea! You've got some excellent books chosen.

  2. That's a great way to celebrate these two 'events'. Good luck. I look forward to seeing what you think.

  3. Great challenge! Good luck with reading the books for the challenge and i cant wait to hear your thoughst on some of the books.

  4. Have you read The Color of Water by James McBride? I really liked it, but one gal in our group said it was the worst book ever. Different strokes ...

  5. P.S. I also found The Known World by Edward Jones to be very interesting -- didn't know that some blacks owned slaves.


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