The Kindle Meets Martin Luther King Day

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today all across America, people are celebrating Martin Luther King Day. And it’s interesting to see how this national holiday even seems to find its way into the Kindle. I was surfing the web on my Kindle Fire when I found the complete text and video of King’s most famous and inspiring speech. And searching Amazon’s Kindle Store also turned up 14 different ebooks that let you remember the words of the famous 1960s activist for civil rights — most of them now available for just than $10.

For a shortcut to Amazon’s Martin Luther King ebooks, go to But not only can you read the “I Have a Dream” speech on several free web pages. One site even accompanies the speech’s text with an actual audio recording of King himself delivering the speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August of 1963! It’s wonderful to hear his voice rise and tremble with emotion, as the audience joins in with encouragement.

In front of a crowd of 250,000 marchers, King was reading from his prepared text, when a moment happened that changed his speech into something even more powerful. On the stage with him was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and as he read from his prepared remarks, Mahilia shouted out “Tell them about the dream, doctor…” She repeated it, one participant remembered later, and King was moved to improvise a more powerful message. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’…

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character… This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day…

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Martin Luther King was a truly inspirational speaker. (According to Wikipedia, it was ranked the greatest American speech of the 20th century in a survey of 137 American academicians who study public speaking.) But it’s important to remember that was just one speech in a longer career of activism. One of King’s most eloquent works was his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. It’s part of a longer book — titled Why We Can’t Wait — which became a best-seller when it was released in 1963. And 50 years later, it’s now available as a Kindle ebook.

There’s also two collections of King’s speech — A Knock at Midnight and A Call to Conscience. Both books include introductions for each speech written by other spiritual and political leaders, including the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Senator Ted Kennedy. I’m tempted to purchase the audiobook version, so I can listen to it on my Kindle Fire.

There’s also an audiobook version of Martin Luther King’s autobiography — read by Levar Burton — as well as a Kindle ebook. And it does give me a warm feeling to see people remembering his life and his works. Browsing Amazon’s selection of the works of Dr. King, I even discovered a poignant children’s picture book that was based on his “I Have a Dream” speech. It opens with a lovely watercolor of the crowd gathering around the Lincoln Memorial on a sunny day, and excerpts some of the speech’s most important passages. “I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…” the book begins.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’… ”

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