Five decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., equality, for many, remains a distant dream.
In This Issue
Martin Luther King Jr. on poverty, racism, and war, including his landmark “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Plus John Legend and Jesse Williams on art as activism, an interview with John Lewis, Jesmyn Ward on racism in Mississippi, a photo essay by LaToya Ruby Frazier, an introduction by Bernice A. King, and more.
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I. The Man
During another polarizing period in America’s history, Bernice A. King lays out three actions that she thinks her father would offer today.
Before he led the Montgomery bus boycott or marched on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. was a chain-smoking, pool-playing student at Crozer Theological College just discovering his passion for social justice.
The Georgia congressman on what it was like to know the iconic activist
She was far more than her husband’s helpmate, but along with many other leaders of the era, her leadership was hidden in plain sight.
Five days after King was assassinated, his “spiritual mentor” Benjamin Mays delivered a eulogy for his former student.
Racism was only the first.
In 1967, the civil-rights leader foresaw that white resistance to racial equality would stiffen as activists’ economic agenda grew more ambitious.
Jesmyn Ward reflects on choosing to raise her children in her home state.
The death of Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t a galvanizing event, but the premature end of a movement that had only just begun.
In June 1965, the Voting Rights Act languished in the House Rules Committee after passage in the Senate. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this letter to the New York Amsterdam News urging its passage as the first step in ensuring access to the ballot.
“America is cool because of black people. Our music is black. Our aesthetic is black … We are as American as you can be, and what do we get for it?”
Martin Luther King Jr. on what sparked the violent urban riots of the “long hot summer” of 1967
Good jobs in black communities have disappeared, evictions are the norm, and extreme poverty is rising. Cities should be exploding—but they aren’t.
Shooting from a helicopter, the artist LaToya Ruby Frazier documented how King’s assassination affected the physical structures of cities.
Ten years after Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr. condemned how little had changed in the nation's classrooms.
The civil-rights activist’s vision for education was far grander than integration alone. How disappointed he would be.
In early 1968, the activist planned a massive protest in the nation’s capital.
The nation’s problem isn’t that we don’t have enough money. It’s that we don’t have the moral capacity to face what ails society.
“A Freedom Budget for All Americans” proposed spending billions of federal dollars to provide jobs and basic welfare to all citizens.
“We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was bailed out of Birmingham Jail by a millionaire. Incarcerated people today aren’t so lucky.
Activist Bree Newsome on bridging the divided perspectives of the young and old.
On Easter Sunday in 1958, the civil-rights leader led a “prayer pilgrimage” in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the inequality of a young man's death sentence.
The artist’s works turn the brutality of history inside out.
“The greatest irony and tragedy of all is that our nation, which initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world, is now cast in the mold of being an arch anti-revolutionary.”