08:52 AM

MLK's Messages of Tolerance, Love Collected for UHD Professor's New Book

"30-Day Journey" Offers Readers Reflections from Iconic Civil Rights Leader


By Mike Emery

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were catalysts for change in the 1960s. Today, they remain just as powerful as people seek inspiration, peace and hope in their lives.

Thanks to University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) professor Dr. Jonathan Chism, readers can meditate on King’s messages of love and justice each day. His new book “30-Day Journey with Martin Luther King Jr.” (Fortress Press) collects excerpts from the iconic civil rights leader’s sermons and written works. Accompanying King’s words are reflections that provide deeper insight into their meanings.

“The book engages King’s thoughts and takes the reader on a transformative journey,” said Chism, assistant professor of history. “Readers are encouraged to read a passage each day to receive inspiration and guidance.”

Chism provides passages from King’s sermons, letters and speeches, including “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” “Strength to Love,” and “Where Do We Go From Here?”

The book begins with “Day One: To Love on This Level” detailing selfless, unconditional love and continues through “Day Thirty: The Great Unifying Force of Life,” focused on love as a unifying force.

As a civil rights historian, Chism was honored to take on this project. His familiarity with King’s writings was helpful during the process of assembling the book’s content. He admits, however, that he was challenged by selecting just 30 excerpts from King’s many messages.

“I focused mainly on specific themes such as love and justice as I selected quotes and passages,” he said. “My central focus, however, was addressing how Martin Luther King came to possess the power and spiritual fortitude to love those, who sent him hate mail and wished violence upon him … how he rose above such hatred during the Civil Rights Movement. I encourage readers to acknowledge King's human vulnerabilities and to reflect on how he managed to remain committed to his faith during such hard times.”

Chism’s book is part of the “30-Day” series that includes other day-by-day spiritual journeys with other spiritual figures including Dorothy Day, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Saint Hildegard of Bingen. The book will be available to the public on Aug. 6 through Amazon and other retailers.

“30-Day Journey with Martin Luther King Jr.” is his second book to be released this year. Earlier in 2019, Chism’s “Saints in the Struggle” (Lexington Books) documented unsung church heroes during the Civil Rights Movement.

While that text focused on King’s peers, who may have flown under history’s radar, he hopes this text will enlighten audiences new to the Civil Rights leader’s words—beyond the classic “I Have a Dream” speech.

“People need to learn more and more of what King said,” Chism said. “Living in an age when discourse and social media generate misinformation and hate, his words and moral wisdom are still very timely. I am proud to have worked on this text and hope that it can inspire new generations of readers who are unfamiliar with his message.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.