What a difference a year makes. Book banning is back—and it’s on steroids. Is it a coincidence that it’s all the rave—more like rage—during Black History Month? The pearl-clutchers have assembled and are targeting not only books dealing with sex and gender but also books featuring Black themes and US history. It’s a predictable flex. A tired flex.
Is the coast clear? Any instances of blackface or diversity snafus on the horizon to mar Black History Month? Any of that nonsense to call out? Only last year and the year before did rashes of both spread in news headlines. But not this year. We’re conditioned to anticipate them like clockwork, but it’s a relief not to see them. Too soon to call it? Anyway, this year’s Black History Month is starting on a more auspicious note.
First, the American Dirt snafu. Now this? Barely into the beginning of Black History Month, we had a teachable moment. Yes, that kind of teachable moment. To celebrate the month, Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue announced the launch of their Diverse Editions. Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet, The Secret Garden, and nine other classic novels—“classic” meaning, of course, older works of fiction from the white literary tradition, as though other cultures don’t have longstanding literary traditions of their own, tut-tut—would have custom designed covers, each one illustrating the main characters with multiethnic backgrounds.
As Coretta Scott King wrote in the introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Strength to Love,” “Love, truth, and the courage to do what is right should be our own guideposts on this lifelong journey. Martin Luther King, Jr., showed us the way; he showed us the Dream.” He sure did! The entirety of Dr. King’s speeches and activism embodies love, truth, and the courage to do what is right. It’s a radical vision of ridding the world of what he identified as the triple evils of poverty, racism, and war—which we still have to work very hard to make a reality.
With a book on the New York Times bestsellers list, it’s been an amazing year for Beacon. Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility has been on the list for twenty-four weeks in a row! This may be a record for us. It just goes to show you how the need for Robin’s critical analysis of whiteness and white supremacy isn’t fading any time soon. But White Fragility wasn’t our only bestseller this year. We’ve got such classics as Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred as well as recent books, like Jeanne Theoharis’s A More Beautiful and Terrible History and Charlene A. Carruthers’s Unapologetic, keeping Robin’s book company in this roundup. Check out all our bestsellers!
Black History Month is the time that connections need to be made between the ancestors of Black heritage and the living inheritors. As educator Christopher Emdin wrote on our blog, the stories of past battles should never be told as if they are over or conquered. The stories are alive and playing out today. The connections are more powerful when they’re grounded in the context of history. In the spirit of Emdin’s observations, we’re offering a list of recommending reading to bridge the past with the present.
“It is our common tragedy that we have lost [Martin Luther King, Jr.’s] prophetic voice but it would compound the tragedy if the lessons he did articulate are now ignored.” So wrote Coretta Scott King in the forward of Dr. King’s final book Where Do We Go from Here, his analysis of American race relations and the state of the movement after a decade of civil rights efforts. Each year, we honor his life and his legacy on his birthday. 2018 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of his death—a time for us to take account of our troubled times and truly pay attention to the message of his lessons.
This month, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? turns fifty. King’s acute analysis of American race relations couldn’t be more prophetic. Written in 1967, in isolation in a rented house in Jamaica, King’s final book lays out his plans and dreams for America’s future: the need for better jobs; higher wages; decent housing; quality education; and above all, the end to global suffering. King’s dreams are very much our own today.
The results of the 2016 presidential election have left many people in shock and disappointment. In a time where people are fearing that a new administration will work to reverse much of the progress made in the last eight years, we are left wondering what the future holds. How do we continue to fight against climate change, fight for reproductive rights, LGBTQ protections, and racial and economic justice?
Michael K. Honey, a lifelong follower of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on how following the way of Dr. King has led him to a better, more meaningful and engaged life. Honey is the editor of "All Labor Has Dignity", a collection of King's speeches on Labor.
On the anniversary of King's death, Eboo Patel looks at his work through the lens of interfaith cooperation.
In his final book, Martin Luther King, Jr., demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty
What the color line was to the 20th century, the faith line might be to the 21st.
Excerpts and multimedia for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In honor of the holiday honoring the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., an excerpt from his final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?