100 books like From Civil Rights to Human Rights

By Thomas F. Jackson,

Here are 100 books that From Civil Rights to Human Rights fans have personally recommended if you like From Civil Rights to Human Rights. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Parting the Waters

Jim Carrier Author Of A Traveler’s Guide to the Civil Rights Movement

From my list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist who learned his craft on the job in the tumultuous 1960s, I happened to find myself living in states where racial history was being written. Reporting that story required me to understand why discrimination, poverty, and violence remained so deeply rooted in modern America. I wrote Ten Ways to Fight Hate, I made a movie about civil rights martyrs, and, after seeing people from around the world making a pilgrimage to the sites of the civil rights struggle, published my guidebook. Over the course of a 50-year career, I have written a million words. I am proudest of those that tried to right wrongs, and sometimes did.

Jim's book list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement

Jim Carrier Why did Jim love this book?

As I drove through the South researching my guidebook to civil rights sites, my back seat was filled with books. Atop the pile was Taylor Branch’s magisterial three-volume history – America in the King Years 1954-1968: Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan’s Edge.

Though encyclopedic, Branch’s story-telling is riveting—weaving together personalities, legalities, strategies, and geography in a way that made me feel as if I were there witnessing history as it was made. Taylor’s detail, reflecting a journalist’s quest for who, what, where, when, how, and why, showed me that these stories could best be told, understood, and felt where they happened.

By Taylor Branch,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Parting the Waters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Parting the Waters, the first volume of his essential America in the King Years series, Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch gives a “compelling…masterfully told” (The Wall Street Journal) account of Martin Luther King’s early years and rise to greatness.

Hailed as the most masterful story ever told of the American Civil Rights Movement, Parting the Waters is destined to endure for generations.

Moving from the fiery political baptism of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the corridors of Camelot where the Kennedy brothers weighed demands for justice against the deceptions of J. Edgar Hoover, here is a vivid tapestry of…


Book cover of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Paul Harvey Author Of Martin Luther King: A Religious Life

From my list on Martin Luther King, Jr..

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire academic career researching and teaching about American religious history, particularly focusing on issues of race and religion. I am the author of numerous works on this topic, including The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in American History (co-authored with Edward J. Blum), and Howard Thurman and the Disinherited: A Religious Biography. Finally, after thirty years of work, I challenged myself to write a short reader-friendly biography of King that would capture him as fully as possible, but in a brief book that would communicate to general readers the full measure of the man.

Paul's book list on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Paul Harvey Why did Paul love this book?

Garrow’s Pulitzer-prize winning biography is the first complete, almost minute-by-minute, account of King’s life based on extensive research in the King documents, interviews with dozens of his associates, and a deep understanding of American history in that period. Garrow picks up the story just as King comes to Montgomery, and there are other books to read about the young King before 1954, but from there forward, Garrow’s is the indispensable account, and was the first book to really delve into the FBI’s surveillance of King.

By David J. Garrow,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bearing the Cross as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the 7th annual Robert Kennedy Book Award, this biography of Martin Luther King, first published in 1986, portrays the struggles and conflicts within the man who became the incarnation of the civil rights movement in America. It is based on more than 700 interviews with King's associates and with the Southern law men who worked against him, and on the author's access to King's personal papers and thousands of pages of newly-released FBI documents relating to the most radical uprising in American history.


Book cover of The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me: The Righteous Performance of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Paul Harvey Author Of Martin Luther King: A Religious Life

From my list on Martin Luther King, Jr..

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire academic career researching and teaching about American religious history, particularly focusing on issues of race and religion. I am the author of numerous works on this topic, including The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in American History (co-authored with Edward J. Blum), and Howard Thurman and the Disinherited: A Religious Biography. Finally, after thirty years of work, I challenged myself to write a short reader-friendly biography of King that would capture him as fully as possible, but in a brief book that would communicate to general readers the full measure of the man.

Paul's book list on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Paul Harvey Why did Paul love this book?

Rieder’s work is perhaps the single most interesting interpretation of King’s ability to thrive in very different rhetorical audiences, and explains his ability to communicate to so many different audiences at the same time. From King’s street talk in private to his SCLC colleagues, to his magnificent sermons to black church crowds, to his soaring oratory to more general public audiences, King code-shifted with ease and skill. No one captures this quality better than Rieder in this book.

By Jonathan Rieder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"You don't know me," Martin Luther King, Jr., once declared to those who criticized his denunciation of the Vietnam War, who wanted to confine him to the ghetto of "black" issues. Now, forty years after being felled by an assassin's bullet, it is still difficult to take the measure of the man: apostle of peace or angry prophet; sublime exponent of a beloved community or fiery Moses leading his people up from bondage; black preacher or translator of blackness to the white world? This book explores the extraordinary performances through which King played with all of these possibilities, and others…


Book cover of Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel

Paul Harvey Author Of Martin Luther King: A Religious Life

From my list on Martin Luther King, Jr..

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire academic career researching and teaching about American religious history, particularly focusing on issues of race and religion. I am the author of numerous works on this topic, including The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in American History (co-authored with Edward J. Blum), and Howard Thurman and the Disinherited: A Religious Biography. Finally, after thirty years of work, I challenged myself to write a short reader-friendly biography of King that would capture him as fully as possible, but in a brief book that would communicate to general readers the full measure of the man.

Paul's book list on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Paul Harvey Why did Paul love this book?

This is volume two of Dorrien’s magisterial history of the “black social gospel,”  from the mid-nineteenth century to the present; as the title indicates, King is the central figure in the book, but Dorrien places him in a long tradition and shows how and why King as a young man and seminary student wrote of himself, “I am a profound advocator of the social gospel.” This is the best place to start to have a comprehensive understanding of the multitude of intellectual influences that shaped King’s thinking and action.

By Gary Dorrien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Breaking White Supremacy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This magisterial follow-up to the Grawemeyer Award-winning The New Abolition explores the black social gospel's crucial second chapter

"Magnificent . . . Breaking White Supremacy interweaves histories of families and institutions, of the black church and its storied presence, of African Americans in Africa and America, of ideas like nonviolence and socialism and uplift, and of the painfully varied ability of American Christianity to produce both a Howard University (or a Martin Luther King Jr.) and the need for them."-Jonathan Tran, Christian Century

The civil rights movement was one of the most searing developments in modern American history. It abounded…


Book cover of As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Amazing March toward Freedom

Cathy Goldberg Fishman Author Of When Jackie and Hank Met

From my list on diversity and social justice for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a teacher, a mom, a bubbe, and a writer. I taught elementary school and college courses, directed a daycare, and owned a children’s bookstore, but my favorite job is scribbling words on paper. I have two grown children and four wonderful granddaughters who love to listen as I read to them. Many of my ideas come from my experiences with my granddaughters and from their questions. Our family and friends are a mix of religions and cultures, and most of my books reflect the importance of diversity, acceptance, and knowledge.

Cathy's book list on diversity and social justice for children

Cathy Goldberg Fishman Why did Cathy love this book?

As Good as Anybody is the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in the south and experienced racial discrimination.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in Europe and experienced anti-Semitism. These two men formed a close friendship. They marched together and prayed together. They became leaders for social justice and acceptance.

I am recommending this book because it is a wonderful story about two men who tried to break the barriers of race and religion.

By Richard Michelson, Raul Colon (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As Good as Anybody as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Their names stand for the quest for justice and equality.Martin grew up in a loving family in the American South, at a time when this country was plagued by racial discrimination. He aimed to put a stop to it. He became a minister like his daddy, and he preached and marched for his cause.Abraham grew up in a loving family many years earlier, in a Europe that did not welcome Jews. He found a new home in America, where he became a respected rabbi like his father, carrying a message of peace…


Book cover of If Your Back's Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement

W. Jason Miller Author Of Origins of the Dream: Hughes's Poetry and King's Rhetoric

From my list on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his words.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lost audio reels, archived poetry drafts, personal interviews, and undeveloped photograph negatives spark my compulsive curiosity to tell stories about language that people have never heard. Uncovering what is hidden has led to a digital project dedicated to Martin Luther King’s first “I Have a Dream” speech, a museum exhibit based on never-before-seen images of an 1,800 person KKK march staged in opposition to a King appearance in 1966, and an intimate interview with Dorothy Cotton about her memories of Dr. King. Of my three books, I have written a recent biography, Langston Hughes: Critical Lives. Part of my current research details the poet’s collaborative relationship with jazz singer Nina Simone.  

W.'s book list on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his words

W. Jason Miller Why did W. love this book?

Not scandalous like I Shared the Dream by Georgia Davis Powers, Cotton nonetheless enjoyed much greater access to King from 1963-68. While others may want to hear from the men who best knew King (such as Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, Wyatt T. Walker, or Clarence Jones) the woman closest to him offers an immediate account of both the tensions inside the Southern Leadership Conference and throughout the nation during the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s. Cotton’s life models the fortitude it took for a woman to rise to the role of leadership within King’s inner circle, as she became the Director of the Citizenship Education Program run by King’s organization.

By Dorothy F. Cotton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If Your Back's Not Bent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An unsung hero of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle reveals the true story behind the Citizenship Education Program—a little-known training program for disenfranchised citizens—reflecting on its huge importance to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and explaining its indisputable relevance to our nation today.

“Nobody can ride your back if your back’s not bent,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously proclaimed at the end of a Citizenship Education Program (CEP), an adult grassroots training program born of the work of the Tennessee Highlander Folk School, expanded by King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and directed by activist Dorothy…


Book cover of Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

Clarence B. Jones Author Of Last of the Lions: An African American Journey in Memoir

From my list on the realities of being Black in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Black man born in Jim Crow America to domestic servants so challenged by their circumstances that they had to place me in a kind of orphanage because they weren’t given permission to raise me in their employer’s home. I’ve known poverty, violence, racism, and law enforcement changing the rules to single me out. But I have also known the rarified success of Wall Street, my own thriving law practice, entertainment industry deals, and, of course, the privilege of a lifetime working side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Therefore, I understand both the promise of the American Dream and the cruelty with which it’s mostly (and purposely) withheld from her citizens of color.

Clarence's book list on the realities of being Black in America

Clarence B. Jones Why did Clarence love this book?

Of all Dr. King’s books (many of which I helped assemble, edit, and/or find publishing for), his last seems to strike at the heart of what really got him killed: his non-violent fight against poverty (The Poor People’s Campaign).

Such a radical preacher was always considered dangerous to the status quo, but once he fully moved out of the minority interest of Black Americans and started speaking to poor Americans of every color (a vast majority), a line was crossed and his fate was sealed. Still, his vision of a future of fairness and opportunity lingers on in Where Do We Go from Here.

Book cover of Fools Rush In

Tom Schreck Author Of The Vegas Knockout

From my list on mysteries with a message.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked and taught in the field of human services for over 40 years. Helping people and creating nurturing communities isn’t always what it appears. It is mired in hypocrisy, inefficiency, and neglect and the people looking for help are often their own worst enemies. Still, there is something inherently good just in trying to reach out to the vulnerable and fight the injustice that surrounds us. Sometimes that fight is figurative and sometimes it is literal. I am also a black belt-trained martial artist, a boxer, and a world championship professional boxing official. I love the dichotomy of helping people and knowing how to fight.

Tom's book list on mysteries with a message

Tom Schreck Why did Tom love this book?

This is a fun series. It starts off in the 50s in small-town Iowa with most of the small-time innocence that you’d imagine but Gorman likes to take a different look. He leads us through the era’s less-than-shining moments while we get to relive the 50s and early sixties.

In this one, a young Black civil rights worker turns up dead. Along the way, we learn about racism and the subtle forms it can take and how it can poison a whole community.

In the end, things are not what they seemed but it doesn’t change the facts about America during this era.

Message—People are people and fighting ignorance and hate is all our responsibility.

By Ed Gorman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fools Rush In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In America's heartland, Sam seeks justice for a black college student who's found dead in a car trunk at the drive-in, while thousands gather in the nation's capital for the March on Washington with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.


Book cover of Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Its Sources

W. Jason Miller Author Of Origins of the Dream: Hughes's Poetry and King's Rhetoric

From my list on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his words.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lost audio reels, archived poetry drafts, personal interviews, and undeveloped photograph negatives spark my compulsive curiosity to tell stories about language that people have never heard. Uncovering what is hidden has led to a digital project dedicated to Martin Luther King’s first “I Have a Dream” speech, a museum exhibit based on never-before-seen images of an 1,800 person KKK march staged in opposition to a King appearance in 1966, and an intimate interview with Dorothy Cotton about her memories of Dr. King. Of my three books, I have written a recent biography, Langston Hughes: Critical Lives. Part of my current research details the poet’s collaborative relationship with jazz singer Nina Simone.  

W.'s book list on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his words

W. Jason Miller Why did W. love this book?

This groundbreaking study is an insider’s guide to how a whole era of black southern preachers spoke to their congregations. Ever-curious about the artistry it takes to riff, remix, and sample earlier sources, this book illuminates the added depth that comes with language once the various trajectories of its previous uses are named, contextualized, and dated. Every new voice has an older one behind it. Seeing where they merge is a fascinating journey when someone this informed is driving.

By Keith D. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Voice of Deliverance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Martin Luther King Jr's words defined, mobilized and embodied much of the American civil rights movement, crystallizing the hope and demand for racial justice in America. His powerful sermons and speeches were unique in their ability to unite blacks and whites in the quest for reform. Yet, disclosures about King's unattributed appropriations in his PhD dissertation have raised the broader question of whether King's persuasive voice was truly his own. In this study of the language of King, Keith D. Miller explores his words to find the intellectual roots, spiritual resonances and actual sources of those speeches and essays that…


Book cover of Redemption: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Last 31 Hours

Patrick Parr Author Of One Week in America: The 1968 Notre Dame Literary Festival and a Changing Nation

From my list on America in 1968.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a literary historian and I love reconstructing times in the past with enough factual detail that a reader feels as if they are there with the characters, side-by-side. I didn’t start this way. In fact, I wrote fiction for over a decade. It was only after writing eight atrocious, tension-less, now-in-a-box novels that I realized the books I enjoyed reading most were in the history and biography sections of a bookstore. Still, I was undeniably affected by my years in the trenches of fiction writing. As you may see from my choices, I love reading material from writers attempting to check the pulse of the country at that time. 

Patrick's book list on America in 1968

Patrick Parr Why did Patrick love this book?

I love books that use original interviews and granular detail to recreate specific moments in history. Rosenbloom’s book is a well-paced narrative rich with unique descriptions. There are several books about Dr. King’s assassination, but the reason I appreciate Rosenbloom’s account is that he attempts to recreate without agenda what is arguably the most traumatic moment of 1968. In Rosenbloom’s words: “This book is, most of all, a close-up view of King as he struggled against enormous odds to end poverty in America.” It’s a struggle that continues today. 

By Joseph Rosenbloom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Redemption as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An “immersive, humanizing, and demystifying” (Charles Blow, New York Times) look at the final hours of Dr. King’s life as he seeks to revive the non-violent civil rights movement and push to end poverty in America.

At 10:33 a.m. on April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., landed in Memphis on a flight from Atlanta. A march that he had led in Memphis six days earlier to support striking garbage workers had turned into a riot, and King was returning to prove that he could lead a violence-free protest.

King’s reputation as a credible, non-violent leader of the civil…


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