(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

A Testament of Hope is a compendium of the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., and of transcripts of some of his better-known interviews, speeches, and sermons, all of which were compiled and published at the request of his widow, Coretta Scott King. The book is divided into subject matter sections and an appendix. The first section, “Religious: Nonviolence,” explores the theological underpinnings of King’s passive resistance philosophy. Because he was connected at an early age with the church, it is not surprising that many of the works in this section focus on the role of Christian love in the struggle for equal rights.

Most of the selections in the second section, “Social: Integration,” are oriented toward the more practical aspects of the Civil Rights movement. Topics include the necessity of passive resistance, the need for eloquent speakers, and the difficulties caused by internal conflicts within the movement.

The third section, “Political: Wedged Between Democracy and Black Nationalism,” addresses the difficulties King encountered while campaigning for immediate change; it was difficult to do so and not to lose the support of moderate and conservative sympathizers. This theme echoes through much of the next section, “Famous Sermons and Public Addresses,” as well. The fourth section contains King’s best-known speeches, including the “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963 and the “I’ve Been to the...

(The entire section is 443 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Oates, Stephen B. Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Harper & Row, 1982.