Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Book Review - An Apostle Of Peace Remembered

TITLE: King Remembered
AUTHORS: Flip Schulke and Penelope McPhee, with a Foreword by Rev. Jesse Jackson
PUBLISHER: Simon and Schuster, Inc. (Pocket Books Division), New York
PRICE: $7.95, paperback
REVIEWERS: A. B. Assensoh and Irenita Benbow Assensoh

As the authors of King Remembered, Flip Schulke and Penelope McPhee may possibly be described as specialists on the late Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., America's foremost fighter for civil rights in modern history. The 303-page book is, surely, a sequel to an earlier one by both authors entitled Martin Luther King, Jr., A Documentary: Montgomery to Memphis.

In the current work, Schulke and McPhee have paid a unique tribute to King in an eye-witness account through the utilisation of over 100 photographs and the accompanying commentaries.

The publication vividly portrays the assassinated Baptist preacher and the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner as he fought for desegregation, equal civil rights and, above all, as he led the impoverished ethnic minorities of the United States on a path to freedom and justice.

Published early in 1986, King Remembered reaches its readers at an opportune moment. For, in January 1986, King joins Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to become the fourth person in American history to have a national holiday officially "decreed" in his honour.

In the opinion of the two authors, King's place in history is assured. They, therefore, reiterated: "This book is written in the belief that if the holiday that commemorates Martin Luther King's place in history is to be meaningful more than an empty tribute - it must provide us with an opportunity to study both an exceptional man who is no longer with us and a philosophy that remains very much alive."

Schulke knew King personally and even intimately, as he first met the then indefatigable fighter for civil rights in the 1950s during an assignment for Jet Magazine of the Johnson Publishing Corporation of Chicago. As a leader of great modesty, King felt at the time that his civil rights activities were not to be scrutinised through photographic lenses. However, Schukle, as an experienced hand in political photography, "convinced King that it was essential to document every aspect of the civil rights movement and, subsequently, Schulke became one of the few photographers to cover the entire Southern civil rights struggle. Ultimately, King gained a trust in Schulke that was never betrayed."

Conversely, Ms. McPhee's knowledge of King is merely from her research studies because she never met him in person. At the time of King's hectic civil rights activities in the 1960s, she was a young college student.

As aptly stated, the recollections of King recorded in King Remembered are an "irreplaceable repository of King's legacy. As such, they are infinitely precious." The publication is, therefore, worthy of possession as part of the tribute to the memory of the Rev. Dr. King.

The foreword to the book is provided by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, one of the few followers of King who was present when he was assassinated at the Loraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968. Jackson stated pointedly, "I am keenly aware that were it not for the vision and courage of Dr King, I might not be writing these words at all, much less as someone who ran for the highest office in the land. Even today, nearly two decades after his death, doors that were once closed and locked are still being opened because of the legacy of Dr King."

In the opinion of Jackson, King would remind Americans that "now is the time for leadership." Therefore, in a passionate appeal, Jackson urged readers of King Remembered: "Read and learn about Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. But do not stop there, for he would not have. Apply the lessons of his life and his example as we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling his dream. There is much work yet to be done."

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