March 6, 2021

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Film Club: ‘My Father, Martin Luther King Jr., Had Another Dream’

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6. To learn more about the extraordinary life and legacy of Dr. King, and the continued meaning of his words and message today, read “The Words of Martin Luther King Jr. Reverberate in a Tumultuous Time.” Audra D.S. Burch, John Eligon and Michael Wines write:

He lived and died in a time of tumult and a racial awakening, so perhaps it is no surprise that the 35th national celebration of the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday has particular resonance amid one of the most traumatic seasons in memory: A raging pandemic. Protest and civil unrest after the killing of Black people by the police. A momentous election. And an insurrection.

Even the title of his final book — “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” — seems ripped from today’s headlines.

“I think it’s still an unanswered question,” said Clayborne Carson, a history professor at Stanford University, referring to the title of Dr. King’s book.

“I think the most important word in that question is ‘we’ — who are we, and until you figure that out, it’s very hard to tell where we are going,” said Dr. Carson, who is also the founder and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, which is publishing a collection of Dr. King’s papers.

Amid the change and upheaval, the words of Dr. King, both those celebrated and the less familiar, feel more urgent than perhaps ever before, both as a guide and a warning. From oft-quoted speeches to the words he never had a chance to deliver before his assassination, Dr. King talked about his vision of a just world, about the power of peaceful protests, and about disruption as the language of the unseen and the unheard.

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