Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation

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Bloomsbury USA, Apr 9, 2013 - History - 218 pages
10 Reviews
"I am in Birmingham because injustice is here," declared Martin Luther King, Jr. He had come to that city of racist terror convinced that massive protest could topple Jim Crow. But the insurgency faltered. To revive it, King made a sacrificial act on Good Friday, April 12, 1963: he was arrested. Alone in his cell, reading a newspaper, he found a statement from eight "moderate" clergymen who branded the protests extremist and "untimely."

King drafted a furious rebuttal that emerged as the "Letter from Birmingham Jail"-a work that would take its place among the masterpieces of American moral argument alongside those of Thoreau and Lincoln. His insistence on the urgency of "Freedom Now" would inspire not just the marchers of Birmingham and Selma, but peaceful insurgents from Tiananmen to Tahrir Squares.

Scholar Jonathan Rieder delves deeper than anyone before into the Letter-illuminating both its timeless message and its crucial position in the history of civil rights. Rieder has interviewed King's surviving colleagues, and located rare audiotapes of King speaking in the mass meetings of 1963. Gospel of Freedom gives us a startling perspective on the Letter and the man who wrote it: an angry prophet who chastised American whites, found solace in the faith and resilience of the slaves, and knew that moral appeal without struggle never brings justice.

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Review: Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation

User Review  - Sam Motes - Goodreads

Gives the back story up to the incarceration as well as Dr King's words of wisdom from the jail cell. Great insight into why King's seminal work was so important and why it is still treasured by many today. Read full review

Review: Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation

User Review  - Katie Gamble - Goodreads

Great read for going deeper into the person, politics and faith of Martin Luther King, Jr. Not an introductory or easy read, but a skillful deconstruction of the Letter from Birmingham Jail, it's message, it's symbolism, and it's place in history. Read full review

About the author (2013)

Jonathan Rieder is professor of sociology at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me: The Righteous Performance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Canarsie: The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn Against Liberalism. He has been a regular commentator on TV and radio, a contributor to the New York Times Book Review, and a contributing editor for the New Republic.

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