(I had borrowed it from the public library last January and got through about 300 pages of it before it had to go back……I anticipated buying it, but then the hardback version disappeared from the bookstores. Recently when Borders ran a coupon for 40% off any purchase, I bought part 3 of this 3 part series , since it was still available in hardback, At Canaan’s Edge: America In The King Years: 1965-68. )
What I realized was that this year, 2007, marks ANOTHER 39 years passing since MLK’s 39 years that he lived until April of 1968. So this would have been his 78th birthday. In the PBS program, “Citizen King”, Andrew Young told us that the autopsy revealed that he had a heart more similar to a 60-year old than a 39-year old, so perhaps he couldn’t have lived to 78 (who knows?). The stress on the heart may well have come more quickly in the latter years when King’s vision expanded to speaking out against Vietnam and beginning the Poor People’s campaign, two propositions to the American system much more economically “costly” than the integration of buses, schools, and lunch counters. (King himself pointed this out in a clip shown during the “Citizen King” segment on the Poor People’s Campaign. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” was King’s response to critics who implored him to “stick to civil rights”.
After that purchase of Volume 3 , I again checked out the first two volumes , Parting the Waters and Pillar of Fire , thinking of continuing where I left off before. I haven’t gotten much further, since I kept going back into what I had already read in seeking where I had left off, and so I’ve only read 50 actual new pages, due to increased workload at work, other books I’m partially into, and Christmas festivities and such). But after re-watching Citizen King, I feel right about skipping over to the third volume (which I now own) and reading about the latter years (1965-58) and reading about the King’s reactions to America’s and Johnson’s war on Vietnam, and the beginnings of the next major project, the Poor People’s Campaign.
Such histories remain as a link between movements born in faith and becoming part of the “social issues” landscape, and their roots as movements that confront a nation’s structures, and so intensify the contrast between church structures’ complicity in the culture which erected the institutional forces, and churches that live a politics that already take these things for granted, under the auspices of an alternative Kingdom; the one Kingdom of our Lord.