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A Time to Break Silence
Cover of A Time to Break Silence
A Time to Break Silence
The Essential Works of Martin Luther King, Jr., for Students
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The first collection of King’s essential writings for high school students and young people
 
A Time to Break Silence presents Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most important writings and speeches—carefully selected by teachers across a variety of disciplines—in an accessible and user-friendly volume. Now, for the first time, teachers and students will be able to access Dr. King's writings not only electronically but in stand-alone book form.
 
Arranged thematically in five parts, the collection includes nineteen selections and is introduced by award-winning author Walter Dean Myers. Included are some of Dr. King’s most well-known and frequently taught classic works, including “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream,” as well as lesser-known pieces such as “The Sword that Heals” and “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” that speak to issues young people face today. 

The first collection of King’s essential writings for high school students and young people
 
A Time to Break Silence presents Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most important writings and speeches—carefully selected by teachers across a variety of disciplines—in an accessible and user-friendly volume. Now, for the first time, teachers and students will be able to access Dr. King's writings not only electronically but in stand-alone book form.
 
Arranged thematically in five parts, the collection includes nineteen selections and is introduced by award-winning author Walter Dean Myers. Included are some of Dr. King’s most well-known and frequently taught classic works, including “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream,” as well as lesser-known pieces such as “The Sword that Heals” and “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” that speak to issues young people face today. 

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    From "Black and White Together" Faced with diminishing adult support for protests in Birmingham, in 1963 Dr. King turned to the city's young people. James Bevel of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) suggested recruiting local students to participate, reasoning that since they did not have jobs to lose, they would be more willing to risk arrest. After being trained in the principles of nonviolence, more than one thousand African American students skipped their classes on May 2 and gathered in downtown Birmingham, marching directly into police lines to demand desegregation of local businesses, public facilities and restaurants. While hundreds were arrested and jailed, many more young people returned the next day to take their places. In the ensuing confrontation, T. Eugene "Bull" Connor, Birmingham's commissioner of public safety, ordered fire hoses and police dogs to be unleashed on the unarmed protestors. Here, Dr. King recounts the "Children's Crusade" and other important events that led to the end of segregation in Birmingham.

    After eight days of imprisonment, Ralph Abernathy and I accepted bond to come out of jail for two purposes. It was necessary for me to regain communication with the S.C.L.C. officers and our lawyers in order to map the strategy for the contempt cases that would be coming up shortly in the circuit court. Also, I had decided to put into operation a new phase of our campaign, which I felt would speed victory.

    I called my staff together and repeated a conviction I had been voicing ever since the campaign began. If our drive was to be successful, we must involve the students of the community. In most of the recent direct-action crusades, it had been the young people who sparked the movement. But in Birmingham, of the first four or five hundred people who had submitted themselves to arrest, two-thirds had been adults. We had considered this a good thing at the time, for a really effective campaign incorporates a cross section of the community. But now it was time to enlist the young people in larger numbers. Even though we realized that involving teenagers and high-school students would bring down upon us a heavy fire of criticism, we felt that we needed this dramatic new dimension. Our people were demonstrating daily and going to jail in numbers, but we were still beating our heads against the brick wall of the city officials' stubborn resolve to maintain the status quo. Our fight, if won, would benefit people of all ages. But most of all we were inspired with a desire to give to our young a true sense of their own stake in freedom and justice. We believed they would have the courage to respond to our call.

    James Bevel, Andy Young, Bernard Lee and Dorothy Cotton began visiting colleges and high schools in the area. They invited students to attend after-school meetings at churches. The word spread fast, and the response from Birmingham's youngsters exceeded our fondest dreams.

    By the fifties and by the hundreds, these youngsters attended mass meetings and training sessions. They listened eagerly as we talked of bringing freedom to Birmingham, not in some distant time, but right now.
    We taught them the philosophy of nonviolence. We challenged them to bring their exuberance, their youthful creativity, into the disciplined dedication of the movement. We found them eager to belong, hungry for participation in a significant social effort. Looking back, it is clear that the introduction of Birmingham's children into the campaign was one of the wisest moves we made. It brought a new impact to the crusade, and the impetus that we needed to win...

About the Author-
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929--1968), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was among the twentieth century's most influential figures. One of the greatest orators in U.S. history, King was the author of several books, including Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, The Trumpet of Conscience, Why We Can't Wait, and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? His speeches, sermons, and writings are inspirational and timeless. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.

    Walter Dean Myers is the critically acclaimed best-selling author of more than eighty books for children and young adults. In 2012, Myers was named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
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    Beacon Press
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