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Reflect on the Civil Rights Movement with the Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., at the March on Washington
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech. (AP/Wide World Photos)
August 28, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one of the largest rallies for civil rights in United States history where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Citizens from across the country will converge upon our nation’s capital to commemorate and celebrate the historic event. To coincide with the anniversary, Beacon Press is releasing a new e-book The Essential Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I Have a Dream” and Other Great Writings, featuring some of Dr. King’s most famous speeches, as part of the King Legacy series.

On August 28, 1963, over 200,000 demonstrators gathered at the National Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom seeking to advocate for social and economic justice. Before the march, the leaders of the civil rights movement known as the Big Six, alerted President John F. Kennedy of their intentions, including the advancement of voter rights, school desegregation, and passage of a comprehensive civil rights bill. The speakers included such notables as Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, John Lewis, and finally Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Toward the end of the event, Dr. King moved the audience with his now iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

  The Essential Martin Luther King, Jr., cover The Essential Martin Luther King, Jr., contains King’s thoughts on nonviolence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love and hope, and more; the collection is available in e-book only for the first time in this format. In addition to featuring “I Have a Dream,” The Essential Martin Luther King, Jr., includes some of Dr. King’s most influential and persuasive works, such as “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I See the Promised Land.” Featuring a new foreword by Stanford University historian and the King Papers Project editor, Clayborne Carson, The Essential Martin Luther King, Jr., reflects Dr. King’s global vision of peace and justice. 

With a key portion of the Voting Rights Act struck down this summer by the Supreme Court and the outcome of the racially-sensitive court case featuring Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, it’s important to continue the meaningful dialogue on the issues of race and justice in America that Dr. King strived for. The Essential Martin Luther King, Jr.s inspirational and transformative works further his place as a man whose words continue to bring hope, inspiration, and change. The anniversary of the March on Washington is not just a symbolic remembrance of the civil rights area, but a call for action.

Below are several local events surrounding the anniversary of the March on Washington

  • The Civil Rights Museum on Wheels: Visitors will have the chance to explore an original and authentic GMC 1950s transit bus that was painstakingly restored and repainted to match in every way) the Montgomery bus in which Ms. Parks refused to give up her seat. A state of the art audio, visual, and computer system has been installed making it a one of a kind educational and interactive experience. The Civil Rights Museum on Wheels will be open to visitors in Washington, DC, throughout August.
  • On August 27, PBS will air the Robert Redford-produced documentary, “The March,” which offers first-hand accounts and rarely seen footage from the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of more than 200,000 on the National Mall.
  • On August 27, at the historic Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C. , The March: A Civil Rights Opera will stage a free mass meeting performance called Prelude to a Dream, a dramatization of the tension and uncertainty during the final preparations for the march and the stories of ordinary Americans who planned to attend the march.
  • The Library of Congress will present an exhibition, "A Day Like No Other: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington," to mark what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the greatest demonstration for freedom in the nation’s history." The exhibition will open on August 28, 2013, and will be on display through February 28, 2014, in the Graphic Arts Galleries on the ground level of the Thomas Jefferson Building, and will allow visitors to rediscover the context and ongoing legacy of this important event in the country’s history.


Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of the greatest orators in U.S. history. The author of several books, including Stride Toward Freedom, Where Do We Go from Here, The Trumpet of Conscience, and Why We Can't Wait, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Clayborne Carson is a professor of History and the founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. The author and editor of more than a dozen books, including The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., Carson has spoken about Dr. King and his legacy throughout the world and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs.

About the King Legacy Series: The King Legacy series encompasses Dr. King's most important writings, including sermons, orations, lectures, and prayers. In addition to reissuing King's out-of-print titles with new introductions from acclaimed scholars and activists, Beacon Press will delve into his archives to create entirely new books. Published accessibly and in multiple formats, each title in The King Legacy underscores Dr. King's continued relevance for the twenty-first century, bringing his timeless message to a new generation of readers.

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