February 5, 2018

Rare Martin Luther King, Jr. books are coming to Arizona State University


The state of Arizona is not famous for its eagerness to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact the state of Arizona is famous for its hesitancy to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr.

After all, it was the only state which had to put the question “Should we observe MLK day?” to a vote — because apparently this felt like a difficult question. Former Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater also had a big problem with Martin Luther King, Jr. coming to Arizona State University in 1964 and spouting off such insane ideas as the notion that all human beings are created equal.

Recently, ASU has taken new steps to atone for its mother state’s sins, by acquiring rare, signed first editions of two of MLK’s books. As Jose Ivan Cazares reports for ASU’s paper, the State Press:

The books are first-edition signed copies of King’s 1958 memoir, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story”, about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and a 1963 collection of his sermons titled “Strength to Love.”

The books were purchased as part of an effort by the School of Civic Thought and Leadership to add rare texts by influential people to the ASU library archives. The texts will be used to educate the ASU community and general public on key historical figures.

With the 50th anniversary of MLK’s assassination approaching on April 4th, this promises to be a big year for undiscovered civil rights material coming to light. If that sounds like your bag—and we really think it does—might we suggest looking into, say, some interviews that you’ve never read? Or perhaps the wild story of a man torn between his conflicting allegiances to King’s inner circle and the FBI?

Plan your spring reading accordingly.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.