The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Books & Authors

Celebrating MLK and the Civil Rights Movement

The federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. was signed into law in January 1983 to celebrate King's life and work. In addition to remembering his legacy, the holiday encourages people to honor him by participating in activities, such as educational programs, service projects and community dialogues. Celebrate the legacy of MLK and the civil rights movement this week by picking up a book that explores how this movement made a significant impact in creating a more just and equitable society.

The King Years, by Taylor Branch

This work offers a chronicle of key events in the civil rights movement, tracing how it evolved from a bus strike to a political and social revolution.



A Testament of Hope, by Martin Luther King, Jr.

This book contains Martin Luther King, Jr.'s essential thoughts on nonviolence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love and hope and more.



At the Elbows of My Elders, by Gail Milissa Grant

An African-American family history focuses on the everyday life of a middle class black family living in Saint Louis, Missouri in the first half of the 20th century and how they took steps to challenge discrimination, setting in motion a social movement.


The March on Washington, by William P. Jones

A history professor describes the impact and history of the opening speech made during the March on Washington by the trade unionist Philip Randolph whose vision and fight for equal economic and social citizenship began in 1941.


The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, by Jeanne Theoharis

The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement and presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks.


Words of Protest, Words of Freedom, edited by Jeffrey Lamar Coleman

The first comprehensive collection of poems written during and in response to the American civil rights struggle of 1955–75. Featuring some of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century.


Sweet Land of Liberty, by Thomas Sugrue

This is an epic, revelatory account of the abiding quest for justice in states from Illinois to New York, and of how the intense northern struggle differed from and was inspired by the fight down South.


The Bill of the Century, by Clay Risen

This work offers a full account of the complex battle to get the Civil Rights bill passed.



Waking from the Dream, by David L. Chappell

This book presents a study of the civil rights movement after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., drawing upon congressional testimony, court cases, press releases, and other sources to document the battle over King's image and legacy.

Find this article at