[Ebook] ↠ Bearing the Cross Author David J. Garrow – Thomashillier.co.uk



10 thoughts on “Bearing the Cross

  1. says:

    Early morning, April 4th,Shot rings out in the Memphis sky,Free at last They took your life,They could not take your pride Bono, U2.I learned so many things from this book For example, that MLK was assassinated at 6 pm, so Bono got that wrong in his lyrics when he says early morning Then of course pride rhymes a bit with life , so it worked in the song, but other than that, i believe it would be a poor choice to summarize the spirit of Martin Luther King with the word pride Beari Early morning, April 4th,Shot rings out in the Memphis sky,Free at last They took your life,They could not take your pride Bono, U2.I learned so many things from this book For example, that MLK was assassinated at 6 pm, so Bono got that wrong in his lyrics when he says early morning Then of course pride rhymes a bit with life , so it worked in the song, but other than that, i believe it would be a poor choice to summarize the spirit of Martin Luther King with the word pride Bearing the cross is a long book 800 pages with 170 pages of footnotes It is, as the cover says, the most informative life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the most thorough study of the civil rights movement from the New York Review of Books Note that this comment does not express any literary quality, or, for that matter, any reason at all why you should read this book unless you need to do a research on MLK and you don t have access to Google.The writing is as dry as sand Most of the book can be described as a collection of data and facts, organized in chronological order, from Rosa Parks to MLK s death Many paragraphs begin with The following day , or Later that afternoon or even Twenty minutes later That s the level of detail Garrow took many years to put this book together, and he had access to an immense amount of hard copy information, from interviews to newspapers to copies of FBI wiretaps Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing In fact, the subject matter is so important and fascinating per se, that it still resounds and shines despite the flat, dry writing To be fair to the author, at some points he will concede a little dramatization, in the choice of a particular verb or in the semi emotional conclusion of a chapter Mind you, we are talking about 1% emotion and 99% cold delivery of facts But emotion and drama is precisely what Garrow wanted to avoid As he says at the end, by idolizing those whom we honor, we do a disservice both to them and to ourselves His goal seems to be the 360 degrees representation of MLK as a man, almost as a reaction to all the hype and drama that seems to engulf and cloud MLK s history.I can tell you that after reading this book I feel like I know MLK thoughts, feelings and motivations much, much better than what I did before And that is a good thing.I can tell you that this man s life should celebrated eventhan what it is today, for what it represents His weaknesses, his womanizing, his over eating and his vanity, are dwarfed by his achievements and by the historical weight of the civil rights movement MLK was not the only black movement s leader, he was not the smartest, he was not the first or most original But he became a symbol That he accepted to live as such an important symbol for the last 10 years of his life, while thinking of quitting almost every other day, is a remarkable thing One thing above everything else differentiated him and elevated his message to real majestic heights his relentless commitment to non violence Now, I felt the importance of MLK s religious faith was addressed but not properly highlighted by Garrow It s understandble, for when you collect an endless series of facts, you won t find much that says on that morning, he knelt down and prayed for 10 minutes , etc Unfortunately, Garrow touches on MLK s spiritual side only at the beginning, ignoring it almost completely for the rest of the book This is in line with the fact shoveling style of the book, but it pays little respect to MLK s most important relationship, the one he had with God Despite the author s lack of interest for the importance that King s spiritual life had for himself and the people around him, the author never forgets to mention that King, whatever he was doing, was always extremely tired , exhausted , almost every two pages It gets ridiculous after a while Oh, I certainly believe it to be true Not hard at all to believe To keep up with his schedule, he was taking some non specified pills Again, not surprising at all Every big political figure, today like in the past, is constantly using medicines and drugs to be able to keep going at that super human pace.But if you find the time to write that Dr King was exhausted all the time, had a slight bronchitis on that day, and a cough the other day, why don t you find any time to mention his constant, daily praying, or at least some comments on some religious sermons he held, that was farimportant stuff One time MLK goes on holiday and then he s back on the road for a series of speeches, and again every single thing Garrow describes must be preceded by despite his exhaustion, King did this and that Please give me a break MLK was a big boy, a 30 something man with the constitution of a bull who, just like thousands of businessmen, yesterday and today, had to fly around and work long hours Is that so out of the ordinary I was really baffled by this aspect of the book Perhaps writing the book became such an exhausting task for Garrow that he found the need to express his own feelings of exhaustion through MLK s life But i m overthinking here At any rate, I really enjoyed reading this book This is history at its most detailed, which means you are free to judge and jump to conclusions, but not to invent something that is not true, or to exaggerate things I found particularly grippong the part about the relationship with the FBI, and the conflict with J E Hoover, the Darth Vader of those years.MLK was a pastor He came from a priviledged background He was a very gifted and spiritual man, who was chosen by history to play a special, unique part Watching his speeches and interviews on youtube after having read this book is a particularly moving experience Despite being aware of his shortfalls and weaknesses, you are eveninspired and filled with admiration And what an orator In the words murmured by JFK immediately after the I have a dream speech in Washington He is damn good


  2. says:

    A comprehensive biography of Martin Luther King Jr He is obviously the most significant figure in the latter half of American history in the 20th century Martin Luther King is the moral conscience of America bringing attention to its racism and its obsession with materialism King always stressed and believed in non violence He was ignored by the Eisenhower administration and persecuted by the Kennedy s.It was Robert Kennedy who authorized the wire taping of King s residence and hotel rooms A comprehensive biography of Martin Luther King Jr He is obviously the most significant figure in the latter half of American history in the 20th century Martin Luther King is the moral conscience of America bringing attention to its racism and its obsession with materialism King always stressed and believed in non violence He was ignored by the Eisenhower administration and persecuted by the Kennedy s.It was Robert Kennedy who authorized the wire taping of King s residence and hotel rooms One senses as the author suggests something very underhanded from Hoover, given the sexual escapades of the Kennedy s Hoover and his F.B.I come off as the most sinister force in America Instead of pursuing and investigating racist crimes in the South the bombings and the killings here they were devoting time, energy and money to listening to conversations of King with alleged communists They tried blackmailing him for his sexual indiscretions The F.B.I should have been criminally prosecuted for these activities To the credit of the Johnson administration they were not interested in the trivial information provided by the F.B.I.Mr Garrow paints a picture of a strained King, particularly in the later years Even though he succeeded in forcing through Civil Rights and Voter Legislation as law, King still experienced America as a deeply troubled society as racist and militaristic Violent riots were occurring in American cities starting every summer in 1965 The Vietnam War was escalating and getting out of control American troops were starting to be portrayed as pursuing an aimless war for a corrupt South Vietnamese regime King s ambiguities reflected the troubled climate of his country.This book is largely an examination of King the man He comes off as a deeply moral person with a backbone and principals Despite being warned to stop speaking to Stanley Levison and Bayard Rustin by the Kennedy s he kept soliciting their advice He needed and trusted these menthan the government and saw no reason to cease speaking to them In a sense he paid a price for this because it gave the F.B.Iammunition to increase its surveillance.This book examines well the relationship King had with those around him and points out the inter personal issues they had with each other Mr Garrow is very good at exploring all the different Civil Rights groups that sprang up during the 1950 s and 1960 s and their rivalries SCLC was King s group that originated with the Montgomery bus boycott Mr Garrow indicates that SCLC was fragmented in its approach to resolving problems it would abruptly move into and out of cities and ignore the local folks and the other Civil Rights groups NAACP, SNCC, CORE that had a stronger local base King was seen as a moral leader of what appears at times to be a rather diffuse team.Just a small note that in my paperback edition the text was very small so it made this detailed book appearso Because it examines King s life on an almost day by day basis it can be somewhat dry but the events themselves are always of great interest Despite the Epilogue summaries I do find King to be a most heroic person an individual who tried desperately to help and better his fellow man


  3. says:

    It s a bit difficult to know quite what to say about this book It won the Pulitzer prize, undoubtedly because it was a very well chronicled and researched exploration of one of the most influential men of the 20th century in America, Martin Luther King, and probably the first real look at the man in such a format On one hand, this book lives up to what it promises It is incredibly well documented and detailed, they had their research lined up perfectly And it is about a great man during diff It s a bit difficult to know quite what to say about this book It won the Pulitzer prize, undoubtedly because it was a very well chronicled and researched exploration of one of the most influential men of the 20th century in America, Martin Luther King, and probably the first real look at the man in such a format On one hand, this book lives up to what it promises It is incredibly well documented and detailed, they had their research lined up perfectly And it is about a great man during difficult times so it s hard not to find much of it enthralling Particularly in the beginning, you can almost feel a young MLK getting swept up in a cause much bigger than himself, and choosing to bear the cross he was given,with a hallowed resolve than great enthusiasm Indeed, the book makes clear that MLK saw his mission with a certain sense of fatalism of which he was willing to endure for God than something he planned or would have chosen for himself But that s just what reinforces his greatness Unlike many who have followed I won t name names, but your guesses are probably correct , he was not someone looking to make a name for himself or create an industry based around his person He was someone willing to be a name if it was necessary to achieve an end he knew to be right Yet the book stumbles somewhat, as it goes on, particularly toward the last quarter or so In a certain sense, it reflects reality MLK s life became one of drudgery in a sense, of one speech after the next, of one march after the next, and for a cause that, instead of becoming clearer, became onlymuddled after substantial victories While this might be accurate, it certainly became less fascinating toward the end Garrow might have been able to circumvent this if he d wanted to explain the larger context of what was happening and discuss what MLK s and the greater civil rights movements victories meant, but he stays focused on MLK Perhaps this is best for what he was trying to do None the less, I feel that while this might be the first and certainly an important take, there isto the story that could have been added I m interested in checking out Taylor Branch s take As for MLK himself, this is definitely a warts and all take It doesn t shy away from discussing his serial adultery, those few advisers around him who genuinely did have communist ties which the FBI used to justify their surveillance , his occasional self pitying moments, his seeming passiveness in resolving important problems within SCLC, and his occasional rhetorical lapses and misjudgments of character All of this is not to mention the actions of the past two or so years of his life, where he moved from being focused on atraditional civil rights agenda to a full on push for socialism although not communism , and his horrible misjudgment of Vietnam, or at least of the intentions of the Viet Cong and Ho Chi Minn For all but the far left, his ideas here seem quite clearly ill formed, at best a distraction and at worst a betrayal of some of the things he had stood for although he never gave in to full on anti Americanism the way much of the left did in the late 60 s Of course, some of his followers, even those close to him, saw it as the best in him All this is only to say that this isn t a book that chronicles a saint It chronicles a real man in history doing a difficult job during difficult times under difficult circumstances Very, very few emerge from these situations unscathed, and MLK is not an exception The book is stronger for it.It s very interesting to see the gradual development of black history that I ve unintentionally read about this past year reading Fredrick Douglass, Booker T Washington, WEB DuBois, as well as a book by Stephen Carter and now this It s fascinating and frustrating There are no easy answers, even still, to the remnants of America s original sin of slavery, which are with us to this day All I can say is that it s something I want to continue to learnabout


  4. says:

    We went to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis in June 2015 It is located at the site of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968 When you approach the museum, it looks eerily familiar There in front of you is the motel with its vintage sign and outdoor walkways and parking spaces filled with vintage cars People of a certain age might feel as if they had stepped back in time, right back into the famous photo of King s associates pointing to the location where the s We went to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis in June 2015 It is located at the site of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968 When you approach the museum, it looks eerily familiar There in front of you is the motel with its vintage sign and outdoor walkways and parking spaces filled with vintage cars People of a certain age might feel as if they had stepped back in time, right back into the famous photo of King s associates pointing to the location where the shots originated There are two cars parked below MLK s room, and there in front of you is the outside walkway on which he died with a memorial wreath to mark spot And there it is, the 1960s all over again And just across the street also now a part of the museum is the building with the bathroom from which James Earl Ray shot MLK.I was 11 years old when MLK died, and I have not forgetten the moment in the evening when we heard he had been shot and killed About two months later, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in California after winning the presidential primary These two murders helped to define 1968 as a year of tragedy, a year that would end with the election of Richard Nixon, the result being a president who was determined to continue our involvement in the Vietnam War For me, this book helps to illuminate an important part of my past, a past I was too young to understand as it was taking place.This is a fairly long non fiction book about MLK and his organization the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from its inception up until King s death For me, history makes for a slow read But it was worthwhile, if only to make me realize how little I knew about King as a real person as opposed to the mythic figure who fought for justice and civil rights King turns out to have had the same reactions to his life that people under incredible stress and duress have He was frequently depressed, he was frequently exhausted, and some of his stress reducing solutions extra marital relationships, plus frequent overindulgence in sex and alcohol placed him in jeopardy from both internal and external forces King always felt that he had to be at least in the public eye an upstanding family man, and he felt guilty about the reality of being human, that is, being flawed and not always living up to his own standards I guess the biggest surprise for me was how radical especially given today s political climate King and some of his Civil Rights associates and rivals were People talked revolution and King, at least in private, embraced what he termed democratic socialism He was against the Vietnam War from the get go, although the politics of the time resulted in him soft pedaling the issue at times What made King stand out in his time was his consistent message of non violence and his commitment, despite an incredible personal toll, to the cause of bettering the lives of others That MLK was a great man, I always believed, but this book demonstrates how difficult the course of his greatness was, how much sacrifice it required of him and his family, and how extreme the cost, not just his death but the toll taken on his life The book relies heavily on FBI files, and provides some good info on the FBI s leaks and attempts to discredit King by publicizing his private life It also deals very bluntly with King s shortcomings, his loose approach to the staff of his organization, his sexist attitudes towards women, and how that translated into a long term struggle with his wife Coretta over her proper role There is a quote from Charles Willie at the end of the book that I found apropos By idolizing those whom we honor, we do a disservice to them and to ourselves By exalting the accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr, into a legendary tale that is annually told, we fail to recognize his humanity his personal and public struggles that are similar to yours and mine By idolizing those whom we honor, we fail to realize that we could go and do likewise The real King is farinteresting a person than the saintly King we may have imagined, and all thedeserving of our admiration for being human and having struggled with his humanity


  5. says:

    Martin Luther King, Jr is one of the most fascinating human beings to have ever walked the face of the Earth For 12 years of his life, he stood in the spotlight of public attention as a leader of The Civil Rights Movement King, at first, was a reluctant leader, but at some point, he saw that the Movement was bigger than himself, that the whole Movement was destined to change society King saw his role in the Movement as not unlike his Call to preach King felt that God demanded his participa Martin Luther King, Jr is one of the most fascinating human beings to have ever walked the face of the Earth For 12 years of his life, he stood in the spotlight of public attention as a leader of The Civil Rights Movement King, at first, was a reluctant leader, but at some point, he saw that the Movement was bigger than himself, that the whole Movement was destined to change society King saw his role in the Movement as not unlike his Call to preach King felt that God demanded his participation in the Movement, and being the person that he was, King fundamentally understood that his DNA could not say no to God Thus, he answered the call to be active in the Movement affirmatively Though he was a reluctant participant, King saw his role as the Cross that he must bear, and this concept goes a long ways towards explaining how Garrow came up with his title This book is almost a day to day account of King s life from the time he became famous during the Montgomery Bus Boycott until his death The book is also an example of majesterial scholarship, with Garrow having well over 130 pages of notes, a sign that he was thorough in doing his homework There are many who will make the argument that this book is boring, that it is just a string of day to day events just strung together Anyone who says this is not taking the time to get at what is being stated within the book, for it is the kind of book that cannot be read in bulk, meaning that if a person tries reading this book 30 pages at a sitting, he will miss out on what it has to offer I read the book patiently, concentrating on just 2 pages at a time Sure it took me quite a while to read it, but the rewards I gained from reading it in this manner are beyond explanation I make the case that this book is the finest, most comprehensive, subtle and nuanced biography that has ever been written about M.L.K In sum, I am saying that one cannot find a finer account of King s life than this one Garrow is equal to his subject and has done a masterful job in putting this book together This is an excellent biography.King s life has many sides, with many interesting details A close personal friend of King named Professor Vincent Harding taught a college class on King, with a really interesting twist The story of what happened is detailed in the book Reality s Pen Reflections On Family, History Culture by Thomas D Rush on pages 48 and 194 in a piece called The Picture On The Wall At the current time, David J Garrow is researching an approved biography of President Barack Obama, which is said to have an expected release date sometime in 2016 Professor Garrow called author Thomas D Rush in March of 2014 to interview him regarding two private conversations Rush held with the President in January of 1989 while working as a Community Organizer Professor Garrow told Rush during that conversation that Rush s book is well written Rush s account of his meetings with President Obama appears on page 95 of Rush s book in a story called, You Never Know Who God Wants You To Meet


  6. says:

    An unflinching look at the life of man who embraced his destiny and lead his people through very turbulent times during their fight for dignity and respect Garrow s work is very detailed and almost feels like a minute by minute account of the events of Martin Luther King Jr and the SCLC The book did a great job of pointing out not only his strengths and courage but also his flaws as a man susceptible to the failings of the flesh The epilogue points out that when we idolize our hero s we mak An unflinching look at the life of man who embraced his destiny and lead his people through very turbulent times during their fight for dignity and respect Garrow s work is very detailed and almost feels like a minute by minute account of the events of Martin Luther King Jr and the SCLC The book did a great job of pointing out not only his strengths and courage but also his flaws as a man susceptible to the failings of the flesh The epilogue points out that when we idolize our hero s we make their accomplishments seem super human and far beyond the abilities of mere mortals but Garrow definitely doesn t fall into the trap I also like the face that King s assassin only got 6 minutes at the end of the book to document his dark deed and Garrow didn t even defile his work with his name Leave that to other works that focus on that tragic act Garrow focuses on King s life and the accomplishments of the SCLC


  7. says:

    This is the most comprehensive, articulate book I have ever found about Martin Luther King, Jr., the SCLC, and the Civil Rights Movement Garrow does an amazing job detailing every aspect of the struggles of the Civil Right Movement Every meeting, every conversation, every thought during these troubled times can be found in this book You read about joys, trials, triumphs, and tragedies of Martin Luther King, Jr and beyond.It is astonishing how much I did not know about Martin Luther King, Jr This is the most comprehensive, articulate book I have ever found about Martin Luther King, Jr., the SCLC, and the Civil Rights Movement Garrow does an amazing job detailing every aspect of the struggles of the Civil Right Movement Every meeting, every conversation, every thought during these troubled times can be found in this book You read about joys, trials, triumphs, and tragedies of Martin Luther King, Jr and beyond.It is astonishing how much I did not know about Martin Luther King, Jr His story is so inspiring an incredible journey from pastor s boy to the most influential leader of the 20th century


  8. says:

    Made me realize how shallow my knowledge of the civil rights movement and MLK s role was and most likely still is Though it skims quickly over his youth and the indiscretions of his adult years, it s hard to imagine acomplete biography In reading bios of Washington, MLK, and other icons I ve realized that what I m looking for are the dimensions that turn them from symbols into men, flawed and human in their greatness.


  9. says:

    This book could become tedious, if it wasn t so good The level of detail is astounding, and gives an almost minute by minute account of King s ascent from citizen to icon.The good, the bad, and the ugly are all here, which is what is compelling about the story These people weren t superheroes, they were ordinary folks That did great things.I can t recommend this enough.


  10. says:

    This comprehensive, scholarly yet accessible biography of Dr King has already won the Pulitzer Neither Net Galley nor Open Road Integrated Media really needs a review from me Yet, because it is only now being released digitally, I saw the opportunity to read it free, and I leapt up hungrily and grabbed it while I could But if you have to pay to read it, I will tell you right now, you will get your money s worth and .The crossing of that bridge in Selma, Alabama was 50 years ago You know This comprehensive, scholarly yet accessible biography of Dr King has already won the Pulitzer Neither Net Galley nor Open Road Integrated Media really needs a review from me Yet, because it is only now being released digitally, I saw the opportunity to read it free, and I leapt up hungrily and grabbed it while I could But if you have to pay to read it, I will tell you right now, you will get your money s worth and .The crossing of that bridge in Selma, Alabama was 50 years ago You know right now that racist cops are still a problem throughout the USA, but the institutionalized American apartheid that was Jim Crow throughout Dixie is dead and gone Much remains to be done, but what was accomplished by Dr King and hundreds of thousands of African Americans, along with other people of color and a handful of progressive white folks, is very much worth celebrating.For many years I have wanted to readof Dr King s speeches School children are sick to death of the Dream speech, however brilliant and visionary it was at the time It s been used so often that it s almost like the Pledge of Allegiance, tired and recited without a lot of meaning or enthusiasm by those too young to recall how radical the Civil Rights activists were considered back then Garrow draws heavily from King s speeches and letters here, and I was onceelectrified to see what an eloquent person he was As Garrow explains, Dr King did not set out to be a leader of anything except a good sized church He saw his entry into the theological world as that of a social activist, certainly he received his BA in sociology, not religion or philosophy But he had initially perceived his leadership role as that of mentor and guide to the congregation of a Black church in the American south That was all he expected to become When Rosa Parks was arrested for failing to yield her seat at the back of the Birmingham bus, demonstrations began to burgeon, and E.D Nixon, a leader in the struggle, called upon King to speak at a key rally After that, events unfolded and he found himself at the helm of a movement that was larger than any one person, but it needed a leader, and he was that man.He was just twenty six years old King quickly learned that in order to effect change, he had to gain the sympathy and agreement of a large segment of the American public, and at the time, that public was overwhelmingly Caucasian Black folks were less than fifteen percent of the population, so they would need allies In order to gain allies, he needed the media, particularly the big city newspapers and television stations of the north And in order to grab those headlines, show up on the evening news, he had to expose ugly, brutal repression Because attempting to gain integrated facilities in a southern locale where he and his fellow activists would merely be cold shouldered was just not newsworthy Smart southern sheriffs who adapted the strategy of not hauling away those who sat illegally at lunch counters or entered stores through the whites only entrance, but merely telling the proprietors to leave them there but not serve them and eventually they d go away, were wicked but smart The media would leave, disappointed to have traveled all that way without bloodshed or arrests, and the practice of segregation would continue, legal or not.So in order to get the national news coverage that the Civil Rights movement had to have in order to turn the tide of public opinion, King had to lead people right into the teeth of the buzz saw, over and over and over again Where s Bull Connor Let s go there Where is the Klan the ugliest, nastiest, most brutal Put that place at the top of the list And over the course of time, Americans saw it on the evening news, on the front page, and they responded.The death threats piled up Were it not so horrifying, it would be funny to note the number of times a vehicle blew up, a building was hit by a Molotov cocktail, shots were fired just where a moment ago Dr King had been sitting, standing, talking, sleeping He spoke to his wife and associates often about death, because he knew he could not get out of this movement alive, nor could he abandon it.He had never, ever led anything before, apart from being student body president at his small college Now he was thrust into the ultimate position of leadership The activists who were already involved in struggle needed a minister, because a minister was a peaceful person, above reproach morally They needed someone handsome, someone inspirational, a man that could speak eloquently And Martin King, as he was then known his father being Daddy King was their man.Years later, exhausted, suffering from clinical depression, King considered looking for a successor Surely one person should not remain at the helm indefinitely Perhaps he could, after all, lead a normal life, go home to Coretta, who was pissed at him for always being gone and not including her in his activities, and become a full time pastor at his church once .Then he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and although he was overjoyed at the honor, in another way, it weighed heavily upon him, because it was clear that now, he was the symbol He was in it for keeps The eyes of the entire world had likened him to the struggle against racism.There was a lot of money attached to that prize, too King was determined to donate all of the proceeds to the movement Coretta asked if they couldn t just take a small piece off for the children s college funds Nope He didn t even want to own a house, didn t want anyone to charge that he was living larger than the average Black man in the American South He was determined to live in the same kind of house, in the same neighborhoods that everyone else lived in Eventually he agreed to buy a small brick house in an African American section of Atlanta, but he worried that even that was too much Others saw it and were surprised by how small, how humble it was But King was concerned lest he place himself above others in struggle.Later, he would ignore the advice of others in the movement when they told him to back off his opposition to the Vietnam War It was a principled stand, and it cost him his support from the Johnson administration He saw it as a key part of antiracist work the US war against the people of Vietnam, the constant bombing, was related to race, and he saw it and said so.The biography, which is carefully documented and also has a complete index, chronicles his most glorious triumphs, and also his struggles Depression laid him really low, and nobody had any Prozac back then I found myself wondering whether hospitalized due to exhaustion simply meant that his depression had got the better of him, and he had gone to bed and was unable to get up I ve been close to depressive folks, and I have seen it happen It s almost as if they are weighted to the bed And again I find myself thinking what a young age he was, so very inexperienced, to be saddled with this enormous task There were other struggles as well The FBI wired everything, everywhere he went They documented his affairs so that they could blackmail him with them Oh minister who is above reproach, look what we ve got on you And back then, that was a real thing It would have created a scandal King told one of his closest associates that he lived out of a suitcase for 25 27 days out of the month, and that sex relieved tension And in 2015, the public, even probably many churchgoers, would see it and nod His marriage was very tense, but Coretta was careful to present a staunchly supportive front, because there had to be unity in order to keep the focus on ending institutionalized racism But in 1965, a prominent minister with women on the side might well have been shunned by his own people, no matter how many times he stood at the pulpit and proclaimed himself a sinner.Politically he foundered at times as well During the struggle to end Jim Crow, primarily from 1955 1963, the crowds were there, overwhelmingly African American of course, and they were ready to do what it took They would march with or without him, but to prevent agents provocateur from turning peaceful marches to riots, King s staunchly nonviolent leadership was key.But what if the courts told King he could not march Should he go, or should he stay He waffled He wasn t sure What was at the root of racism He was sure it was the profit motive, and repeatedly stated, later in his career, that there needed to be a radical restructuring of the country s wealth But to foment an armed revolution was beyond him, and he was stuck in the rut of calling for mass civil disobedience.At this point in my review I will break away from King s story for a moment and speak of my own experience as an activist for various causes I organized a lot of marches, carried a lot of bullhorns, and I will tell you this one thing masses of people will not usually commit civil disobedience When the march is over, the marchers don t need a police record When it s time to wake up and go to work, they can t be in a jail cell They may have people depending on them, or they may just not want to go through the prison system, and who can blame them Frankly, I wouldn t either I sometimes worked with people that wanted to participate in civil disobedience, but that whole thing had to be kept clear and separate from the rest of the march The crowd needed to know when it was time to go home if they didn t want to face arrest And Dr King did not understand this You can have mass marches and mass rallies if you build them and promote them well enough Or you can have a few people commit civil disobedience But the one thing he wanted, later in his career while trying to end racism in Chicago, in Cleveland, in Detroit, and that in most situations you just cannot have, is massive civil disobedience.So toward the end of his career as well as the end of his life, King was trying to put together a march on Washington, DC in which the participants would put up tents on the lawns of the capitol, sit in the Attorney General s office and refuse to leave, until and there, the list of demands was ever changing This was never going to happen, and he was frustrated by the lack of support he received from others in the movement when it came down to this plan.If you are unfamiliar with the various organizations and individuals within the Civil Rights movement, you may have difficulty keeping up with the names and the acronyms I had no trouble, but I also came to the book with the basics under my belt The most famous organization, the NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was fiercely jealous of King s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference SCLC They saw it as divisive to havethan one civil rights based organization They also saw it as a threat to their dues base Everything possible was done to keep these backroom skirmishes out of the public eye and present a solid front, but sometimes word leaked out The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee SNCC was the group that brought the lunch counter sitters and the Freedom Riders They were bitter, and at times rightfully so, because they went out on a limb and did things that SCLC promised to reimburse and then failed to do so When the big collection was taken at one march or another, they expected their gas money back, and money for car repairs They d gone into this with little other than the shirts on their backs, and when the money promised them never arrived, they were pissed They also never forgave King for refusing to go on the Freedom Rides with them.But when all is said and done, King did the very best, if not better, than any man in his circumstances could be expected to do He knew it would cost him his life, and he did it anyway Without his leadership, what would have happened History always marches forward, never backward, but things might have played out very differently A lotpeople might ve gotten dead trying to achieve the same objective.For those seeking the definitive biography of Dr Martin Luther King, look no further This excellent, Pulitzer winning work deserves a place of pride in everyone s library


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Bearing the Cross Winner Of The Pulitzer Prize Based Onthan Recorded Conversations, Including Interviews With All Of King S Closest Surviving Associates, This Is A Powerful Portrait Of King And The Movement For Which He Dedicated Himself