Book Review Essay Sample: Why We Cannot Wait by Martin Luther King

Published: 2022-05-02
Book Review Essay Sample: Why We Cannot Wait by Martin Luther King
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories:  Racism Martin Luther King
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 924 words
8 min read

Martin Luther King Jr wrote the book "Why we can't wait" in 1964. The book talks about the critical issues that were prevalent in 1963 that related to the civil rights movement and the segregation that was present in the country. It also highlights other issues such as capitalism, social status, and individual prosperity. Furthermore, the book analyzes the various policies that have been instrumental in disadvantaging the African Americans.

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Martin Luther King Jr was born in 1929 and was assassinated in 1968 by James Ray in Memphis. King was an instrumental figure in the civil rights movement that believed in the nonviolence means of solving issues (King, 1965). Martin Luther was instrumental in the struggle against segregation, organizing the Birmingham protest and the March on Washington. In 1964, Martin Luther King won the Nobel Prize for his role in fighting for racial inequality and his ability to use nonviolence means to achieve his goals.

The main purpose why Martin Luther King Jr wrote this book was to show the importance of giving everyone equal rights. He was clear on the needs of African Americans and the way they are suffering. The author of the book wanted to show the ruling elite how segregation was detrimental to both the whites as well as the blacks nation (King & Harding 2010). He gives examples of children who are brought up in poverty despite being surrounded by opportunities. Furthermore, King points out that segregation has brought down the quality of whites because of isolation. He gives an example of parks and baseball teams that had to be shut down rather than the white community allow a black person to join them. Although the African Americans don't get to enjoy the services, the whites also lost out on using the facilities.

Although the United States was founded on the concept of freedom and equality for all, not everyone enjoyed such liberties. The minority groups such as African Americans were discriminated upon with a systematic segregation policy. Before the signing of the right to the voting law in 1965, most of African American in the south could not vote nation (King & Harding 2010). The Jim Crow laws were critical in ensuring the segregation between blacks and whites was enforced. There was a fallacy that was peddled which claimed although people are equal under the constitution, they should be separated. Those people who failed to abide by the segregation laws were fined and sometimes jailed. The segregation policy was critical in ensuring African Americans could not climb up the social ladder. The harsh working conditions and the low pay forced African Americans to live impoverished lives.

The social status and the status quo was addressed under some of Martin Luther's treaties. When he was imprisoned after the nonviolent demonstration in Birmingham, some of the clergies came together a wrote a letter calling for the unity of the nation (King & Harding 2010). The letter was published in the local newspaper which Martin Luther was able to read. The call for unity and the maintenance of the status quo was not something that King accepted. Since he had used nonviolence methods to call for reforms, he questioned the sincerity of the clergy "Since nonviolent action has entered the scene, however, the white man has gasped at a new phenomenon" (King, 1965, p 15). According to Martin Luther King, God created humans being equal. He went ahead to question the lavish lifestyle that church leaders were living while people suffered. The rights of Muslims, the LGBT, Africans American, and women were under threat, and the church should be on the forefront to fight for the injustices that these people faced.

A capitalistic model drives the American economy. However, Martin Luther was opposed to this kind of economic model and claimed it was disadvantageous to the poor working class. Such kinds of claims t led Martin Luther to get into trouble with the authorities who suspected he had ties with communist factions (King, 1965). Although Dr. King agreed that capitalism had made life more comfortable and generated a significant amount of wealth, it had although come with its negative sides. Capitalism according to King had brought with it immense suffering, exploitation and had played a critical role in the social alienation. An individual operating under a capitalistic system often had to rely on selfish and aggressive behavior to succeed. Martin Luther was against the way capitalism valued profit over people and put more emphasis on material gain rather than spiritual fulfillment. Since the system allowed an individual to dispense power without social responsibilities Martin Luther claimed the system was not good for the country and unity.

Corporations and wealthy individuals were also allowed to lobby to support political candidates financially. The financial support these individuals give to politicians ensure they influence the decision-making process. Martin Luther stated that the ability to have more say on the policy goes against the spirit of democracy which was intended to give one man one vote. The author's religion also played a critical role in his struggle for equality and the opposition against capitalism (King, 1965). Martin Luther wanted the gap between the rich and the poor to be closed and was against superficial wealth. He often quoted bible verses that showed how a Christian ought to live. King's struggle was therefore intended for all Americans that were suffering under any oppressive law or system


King, M. L. (1965). Revolution non-violente: (Why we can't wait). Paris: Payot.

King, M. L., King, C. S., & Harding, V. (2010). Where do we go from here: Chaos or community?. Boston: Beacon Press.

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