Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday Intros No. 2: Why We Can't Wait, by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Welcome to First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday Intros,
hosted by Diane @

Every Tuesday, each participant
shares the first paragraph 
(sometimes two) from a book
they're reading,
or thinking about reading.

The book I've picked this week is....

Why We Can't Wait
Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Trade Paperback, 182 pages
Beacon Press
January 11, 2011
African-American Studies,  American History,  Classics, Civil Rights Movement,  
Nonfiction, Politics, Social Justice 


About the Book
Dr. King’s best-selling account of the civil rights movement in Birmingham during the spring and summer of 1963

Often applauded as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most incisive and eloquent book, Why We Can’t Wait recounts the Birmingham campaign in vivid detail, while underscoring why 1963 was such a crucial year for the civil rights movement. During this time, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States, but the campaign launched by Fred Shuttlesworth, King, and others demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action. King examines the history of the civil rights struggle and the tasks that future generations must accomplish to bring about full equality. The book also includes the extraordinary “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which King wrote in April of 1963.


It is the beginning of the year of our Lord 1963.

I see a young Negro boy. He is sitting on a stoop in front of a vermin-infested apartment house in Harlem. The stench of garbage is in the halls. The drunks, the jobless, the junkies are shadow figures of his everyday world. The boy goes to a school attended mostly by Negro students with a scattering of Puerto Ricans. His father is one of the jobless. His mother is a sleep-in domestic, working for a family on Long Island.

I see a young Negro girl. She is sitting on the stoop of a rickety wooden one-family house in Birmingham. Some visitors would call it a shack. It needs paint badly and the patched-up roof appears in danger of caving in. Half a dozen small children, in various stages of undress, are scampering about the house. The girl is forced to play the role of their mother.She can no longer attend the all-Negro school in her neighborhood because her mother died only recently after a car accident. Neighbors say if the ambulance hadn't come so late to take her to the all-Negro hospital the mother might still be alive. 


I have just finished reading this powerful,
moving book, which is one that every
American, whatever their race or
ethnic group, should read. Dr. King writes 
in a sober, eloquent manner about the
horrible injustices of segregation in
the society of his time. Reading this book  
reminds us all that we  still
have a ways to go to achieve full equality.    

Have you ever read this classic?
If so, what did you think?
If not, has the selection above
enticed you to do so?
I would love to know!


Sandra Nachlinger said...

This sounds like a fascinating account of the civil rights movement. The opening paragraphs made me want to know more.
My Tuesday post features ROUND THE BEND.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Sandra!

Oh, this book was riveting! And I love those opening paragraphs. They read like a novel, and really hook the reader. I highly recommend this book!

Thanks so much for commenting!! :)

Margot said...

I read this book decades ago, but I loved reading the intro all over again. I agree with you that we all should read this book. We still have a long, long way to go.

Cleo Bannister said...

This book sounds fascinating as well as being about such an important part of history - I do hope you enjoy it.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Oh, this one does sound very powerful. I haven't read it, but I recall how powerful his speeches were back then, so I do want to add this one. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Maria, this sounds like a powerful and important story. I'd read more.

Heather Fineisen said...

Raw and powerful. I haven't read this one but the words are striking, even today.

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks for posting this Maria. I really want to read this.

This quotes are so powerful. I agree this is something that everyone needs to read. I think that in some cases takes reading and listening to voices like King's in order to be able to step into someone else's shoes if only for a moment.

Kay said...

I have not read this book, but I can see that I need to. What a vivid picture the introduction paints. Wow.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) said...

I really liked that intro...and I've never read this. Not sure how I never had to read it for school at some point.

Anonymous said...

I have read books about Dr. M.L. King but never a book actually written by him-- so powerful!

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Margot!

I'm glad you agree that everyone should read this book. Dr. King really brings home the needless suffering of African-Americans at the time this was written. And we definitely do have a long way to go....

Thanks for coming by and commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Cleo!

This book is indeed an important part of history, especially American history. I have already finished it. It was not an easy read, though, as it's quite heartbreaking.

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Laurel!

This is indeed a powerful book. It's very well-written, as well. Dr. King's prose style is just as compeliing as his speeches were. I highly recommend this book to you and everyone!

You're very welcome for the share and the visit to your blog! Thanks for commenting back!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Diane!

Oh, indeed it is! I've already finished it. I had been wanting to read this book for a very long time, and I finally did!

Thanks for the comment!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Heather!

yes, this book is a powerful reading experience. Furthermore, it reminds us that we still have a long way to go.

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Literary Feline said...

I haven't read this one, but it's one I would like to read. I think it still is relevant. Thank you for sharing!

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Brian!

This is truly a very powerful book, and, as you say, reading something like this does help put one into someone else's shoes.

I wonder if this book is now assigned reading for any high school courses in our public schools. If not, it definitely should be! Private schools should also have it as assigned reading.

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Kay!

Yes, the introduction paints very vivid pictures! Dr. King was not only an inspiring orator, but a great, as well as inspiring, writer, as well. Everyone should read this book!

Thanks for commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Wendy!

Oh, you should definitely read this book! You're right, too -- it's still very much relevant.

You're very welcome for the share! Thanks for commenting back!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Sarah!

Yes, this intro is very vivid and powerful. If this isn't required reading in schools -- whether public or private -- it really should be!

Thanks the comment!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Rita!

This book is indeed a powerful reading experience! Since you haven't read any books by Dr. King himself, maybe you could start with this one.

Thanks for commenting!! :)

grammajudyb said...

I absolutely must add this one to my list. I was 17 in 1963 and remember vividly the time period. Thanks for featuring it here today.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Judy!

Yes, you definitely must! How interesting that you were actually alive at the time these events unfolded! I was, too, but I was around 10 or 11 at the time. I do remember some of what was going on, though. What I remember most vividly is the assassination in 1968. How very tragic...

You're very welcome for the feature! Thanks for commenting!! : )

Beth F said...

I read this years ago and agree that it's still important. Powerful opening.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Beth!

Yes, this is definitely still relevant. And that opening is indeed powerful. It's horrible that these things have taken place in our own country.

Thanks for commenting!! :)