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Remembering the inspiration and legacy, 50 years later

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Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. looking reflective.

Monday, January 19, 2015 is the Federal holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. 

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation's history to about 250,000 people.

Both the DeMotte and Rensselaer libraries have the resource I have a dream by  Martin Luther King, Jr. ; paintings by Kadir Nelson which has a CD of that speech and a picture book of Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson's magnificent paintings that elucidate the speech in a simple and profound way that is appropriate for children and adults alike.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King says, "My father's dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing "I Have a Dream" speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone."

Explore more...

This is just one of several resources our libraries have for all ages to explore and learn more about Dr. King and the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Biographies and documentaries in DVD and book form are available for children, young adults and adult. Use our Wi-Fi to listen to his speeches online or download eBooks about his life available through Overdrive

Opening in theaters Jan. 9, 2015 is the new movie “Selma”  an American historical film based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Ala. voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The film recaps King’s struggle to secure voting rights for minorities during the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery that led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act. The film’s release will celebrate the 50th anniversary of that enactment.

We’ll also soon have available Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year  by Tavis Smiley with David Ritz. Years after the “I Have a Dream Speech,” there were awards and honors, but his last year may have been his hardest.

After his shocking 1968 assassination, a sanitized version of Dr. King emerged, but Smiley humanizes King by showing his joy in humor, his depression at struggling to keep his nonprofit together, facing vilification by the FBI, LBJ’s white house and fellow civil rights leaders who opposed his speaking out against the Vietnam War and reveals questionable morals unexpected in someone so revered. The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s last year was not an easy one. 

The popular PBS host shows that regardless of these obstacles, King continued on his path to oppose racism, poverty, and militarism. As Clay Risen stated in his New York Times Book Review, "Smiley's King is at once more flawed and more human than we have come to see him. But for that reason he is even more courageous, and more admirable."  We hope you’ll check out these and other resources available at our libraries.