15 Books, Videos & Albums from the Civil Rights Movement for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

While the holiday is named after him, Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates everyone who strives for justice and equality.

While the holiday is named after him, Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates everyone who strives for justice and equality.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we wanted to compile a list of books, documentaries, movies and albums either from or about the Civil Rights Movement.

At first, we intended to limit it to 10, but that cap made for a superficial list. We increased the total to 15, but that still excluded too many favorites.

We eventually realized that we could stretch the list to 100, and it still wouldn’t include everything we considered recommended reading, viewing and listening. So this list is admittedly incomplete; or, rather, it’s far from exhaustive, and we preemptively apologize if we failed to include a personal favorite.

If anything, we hope this list introduces you to something new or reminds you of something important.

One final caveat: There has been more than one Civil Rights Movement in America and hundreds more across this planet. This list focuses on black Americans’ fight for freedom and equality in their country. To try to include every Civil Rights Movement would be casting a web too wide for a single post.

However, this won’t be the only list of its kind. The story of any people who are striving for justice and equality matters.

1. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

The holiday is named after the man. We might as well begin with Martin Luther King Jr.

His most moving words are all here: his Nobel Prize acceptance speech; his Christmas sermon on peace; “Why We Can’t Wait”; his final speech delivered on April 4, 1968; and, of course, “I Have a Dream.”

2. April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America by Michael Eric Dyson

“I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.”

Those were King’s words from his final speech the day he was murdered. Dyson uses the fortieth anniversary of King’s assassination as a starting point for a comprehensive reevaluation of the fate of America, specifically Black America, over the ensuing years. He investigates the ways in which we as a people have made it to the Promised Land that King spoke of. He also illuminates the ways we still have a long way to go. (April 4, 1968 can also be streamed as an audiobook via Hoopla.)

3. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years

Both the PBS documentary and book do a masterful job of recapping the Civil Rights Movement from Brown v. Board of Education to the march from Selma to Montgomery—equally useful as an introduction and as a reminder.

4. Nina Simone’s The Definitive Collection

Struggle is never far from Nina Simone’s music, whether it be the struggle of her race (“To Be Young, Gifted and Black” or “Mississippi Goddam”) or her sex (“Four Women” or “Pirate Jenny.”) Life is difficult. The only thing that seemed to come easy were the songs; and, even then, they are sometimes painful to listen to.

You can stream Simone’s music on Hoopla or download her songs from Freegal.

5. Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter

McWhorter won the Pulitzer Prize fore her investigation of her hometown and segregationist family during a pivotal year in the Civil Rights movement.

6. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

King was not the only leader during the Civil Rights movement. Malcolm X’s leadership, vision and rhetoric still influences millions of people. To learn more about the man you can read his autobiography (which, in full disclosure, was primarily written by Alex Haley.) Malcolm Marable’s Malcolm: A Life of Reinvention also offers an interesting counterpoint to his autobiography, as well as more information on his marriage to Betty Shabazz. (It’s also available as an eBook on OverDrive.)

If you’d rather watch than read, Malcolm X is one of Spike Lee’s finest films.

7. If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold

Ringgold may be better known for her story quilts, but she has also written and illustrated more than a dozen children’s books. If a Bus Could Talk is an excellent way to teach and talk to kids about Rosa Parks and Civil Rights.

8. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick

Guralnick tells the story of how musicians—Spooner Oldham, Otis Redding, Booker T. Jones and more—cut across racial lines to make music that was both timely and timeless.

9. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?

Speaking of sweet soul music, Gaye’s plaintive question is as pertinent now as it was in 1969. You might know the singles already (the title track, “Inner City Blues” and “Mercy, Mercy Me”) but this album rewards those who listen to it in its entirety.

10. Black Like Me

In a move that would be decidedly not politically correct by today’s standards, a white reporter temporarily darkened his skin during the height of the Civil Rights movement so he could see how black men were treated in the segregated south.

11. Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford

Eight-year-old Connie can’t eat her ice cream at Woolworth’s lunch counter. This book was written for third through fifth graders, but adults will appreciate its message too.

12. Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s

The worthy followup to Eyes on the Prize. This book tells the story of the Civil Rights Movement from people who were there, both the famous and the unknown.

13. Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge

This book uses modern photos and the historical mug shots of the black and white protesters who rode across the country together protesting segregation.

14. Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

The Civil Rights Movement isn’t just the story of Malcolm and Martin and Medgar Evers. It isn’t just the story of the people who refused to leave their seats on the bus or at the lunch counter. It was (and is) the story of everyone who has been belittled because of their race or sex or some other attribute beyond their control.

Anne Moody writes about her childhood, growing up in the Mississippi Delta in the 1940s and 1950s. Without embellishment or literary theatrics, she describes the risks her contemporaries faced for the sake of earning basic rights. And by telling her story, she tells all of our stories.

15. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Fiction can be a powerful way to share a people’s struggle and few people used it more powerfully than Harper Lee. If you’ve already read To Kill a Mockingbird but it’s been awhile, read it again.

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Don’t waste your winter

Don't let a little snow scare you.

Don’t let a little snow scare you.

We know. It’s cold outside. Very cold.

Your driveway needs shoveling, the doors of your car are sealed shut, and you haven’t been able to feel the tips of your fingers since November.

But winter in Lake County isn’t just some inconvenience between fall and spring. It’s an opportunity—a chance to see something new or something familiar in a different light.

So here are five ways to make the most of this time of year.

  1. Go for a hike. Lake County is replete with gorgeous parks. And while they may be a little chillier in January, they are no less beautiful. Are you trying to exercise more this New Year? Knock out two birds with one stone and go hiking. In fact, you can get a free pedometer or water bottle for your hike if you show your Mentor Library card at the Mentor Parks & Recreation Office this month.
  2. Expand your taste palate. Whether its comfort food at Melt, fine dining at Skye, something crafty at Little Mountain Brewery or dessert at the Confectionary Cupboard, Lake County has hundreds of restaurants, eateries, wineries and more to tantalize you. We’re getting into the act too. Starting February, we’re launching our Tasty Tuesdays program. Each month, we’ll show you the variety of flavors you can get from a single food. It’s like a book club for your mouth. And we’re starting with chocolate!
  3. Learn something new. Even if the weather has you trapped inside, that’s no excuse to stare at the walls until your brain cells atrophy. Take a photography class with Gale Courses. Learn Spanish with Transparent Language. Watch a documentary on Hoopla. (What those three suggestions have in common: You can do them all from home and they’re all free with a Mentor Library card.)
  4. Update your music collection. You know all of those Best of 2014 music lists that are filled with artists and albums you’ve never heard of? Use them as a roadmap to explore something new. Listen to an artist from a genre that you usually ignore or check out that album from that band you used to love. But music’s expensive, you say. Not if you stream it for free from Hoopla or Freegal, which you can do if you have a Mentor Library card. You can even check out a CD or two, if you’re feeling old-fashioned.
  5. Check some books off of your To-Read list. I even know a place that can help with that.
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10 Tips for Healthy Weight Maintenance with Dr. Morris

Dr. Misty Morris visited Mentor Library earlier this week to suggest ways people can maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Misty Morris visited Mentor Library Tuesday to suggest ways people can maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Eat right and exercise. We know.

Everybody knows how to stay healthy. It’s just so hard to do sometimes.

That’s why we regress on our New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that we don’t know better. It’s just broccoli-and-5 am-calisthenics fatigue sets in, and a cheeseburger catches us in a moment of weakness. And so do the fries. And a shake. And maybe some mozzarella sticks.

To that end, Dr. Misty Morris visited the library Tuesday to recommend 10 ways we can get and stay healthy this year.

  1. What are you eating? You can exercise as much as you want. If you don’t eat healthy, then you won’t see the results you want. Lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and remember to shake up the menu sometimes so you don’t get bored.
  2. What are you drinking? And it’s not just food either. You’d be surprised how many calories can fit in a smoothie, a milkshake, a can of soda or a beer. Liquid nutrition is still nutritious and liquid junk is still junk.
  3. 70/30. You don’t need to be perfect. All asparagus and no play makes Jack freak out at 2 a.m. and eat a dozen soft tacos. Keep it proportional. If 70 percent of your calories are nutritious, then that 30 percent won’t undo you. (Though you’d be better off with an 80/20 or even 90/10 split, but the point is that 100/0 never lasts long.)
  4. No plan is a plan to fail. Plan out your meals. If you’re thinking, “I’ll come up with lunch on the fly,” you’re going to eat what’s convenient and not what’s healthy. Also, know when and how you’re going to exercise. If you think you’ll just fit in in later, you won’t.
  5. Have fun with motivation. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself. Give yourself goals and, when you reach them, treat yourself. (But don’t keep treating yourself. If every day was Mardi Gras, we’d all be sick by Palm Sunday.)
  6. Let’s get physical.  Yes, exercise is important. No, exercise doesn’t need to be running marathons in the snow. Get active—go for walks, try out an exercise DVD, check out a gym or the YMCA. (Your first visit is free with your Mentor Library card.) Don’t feel the need to do everything at once. Start where you are, but try to move for at least 20 minutes a day.
  7. Get some sleep. While sleep requirements differ from person to person, a healthy adult needs between seven and 9 1/2 hours a day. If you don’t get enough, it hurts your metabolism, your focus, your attitude—everything.
  8. The first thing you need to change is your mind. It doesn’t help if you’re never satisfied. If you want to lose 30 pounds, you can still be proud of yourself for losing five. You need to look in the mirror and be happy with yourself during each step of the process.
  9. Get your friends involved. You’re going to run into doldrums—that day you don’t feel like getting off the couch. When that happens, lean on your friends. Instead of calling your friends to go out and eat, why not go snowshoeing or hiking? It won’t feel like a chore with your friends in tow.
  10. What’s your motivation? You clicked on this story for a reason. Why do you want to be healthier? So you can fit into that old dress (or suit)? So you can be there for your family as you get older? So you can lift your groceries without wheezing? Keep that motivation in mind when you’re working out or eating those carrot sticks. Ultimately, that reason will help you stay the course.
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Using ancestry.com at Mentor Library to discover your history

I was able to find my great-grandfather's naturalization information almost a century later with www.ancestrylibrary.com at Mentor Library.

I was able to find my great-grandfather’s naturalization information almost a century later with www.ancestrylibrary.com at Mentor Library.

It’s amazing what you can learn about your family history in just 30 minutes with the free Ancestry database at Mentor Library.

I found out that my great-grandfather Gaetano “Thomas” Mangione was born on July 7, 1890, in Licata, Sicily. He landed in New York City on March 17, 1906, aboard the Prince Adalbert. He married Crocifissa “Bessie” Vecchio on April 28, 1917, in Cleveland. (She had emigrated from Licata in 1914 aboard the Dante Alighieri.) They named their son after his father, Andrea Mangione, and their first daughter after his mom, Francesca Amato. The other daughters were named Amelia “Mamie” and Assunta “Susie.”

They lived on East 38th Street and then Ensign Avenue in Cleveland. He worked as a fruit vendor to support them, according to the federal census.

It was Susie who later met Richard Lea, the son of Howard Lea and Gertrude Kling, who had a kid who had kid who uses the library database to research his family.

And you can learn about your family history too!

You can use the Ancestry database for free when you visit any of the Mentor Library branches. You can access it on the Databases page in the Research & Tools section of our website. (Unlike most of our digital services and databases, you do need to use a Mentor Library computer to access the Ancestry database.)

If you know the name of the person you're researching and somewhere they lived, then you have all you need to get started.

If you know the name of the person you’re researching and somewhere they lived, then you have all you need to begin.

You don’t need to know much to get started on the Ancestry database—a name, somewhere that person lived and it helps to know his or her approximate birth year. (And, frankly, if you don’t know your great-grandfather or great-great-mother’s birth year, it usually only takes a single search to find out.)

Ancestry then searches through millions of public records for information about him or her: census and immigration information, birth/marriage/death certificates, and more. Not only can you view these documents, but you can email them to yourself and your family members.

You’ll never know what you don’t know until you look. (The Dante Alighieri!)

And it’s free with your library card. So come to Mentor Library and start searching!

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Wands, Wizards & Writing this MLK Day at Mentor Library

It's going to be a Harry Potter party this Jan. 19 at our Lake Branch. (Don't worry. No snakes are invited.)

It’s going to be a Harry Potter party this Jan. 19 at our Lake Branch. (Don’t worry. No snakes are invited.)

Schools are closed this Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we’ll be open with a full carte du jour of programs for teens and kids.

If your kids are looking for something fun to do on their day off, we have you covered.

At our Lake Branch, we’re throwing a Harry Potter party at 6:30 p.m.. Kids can make their own wands, while playing wizarding games. (No curses allowed!)

Meanwhile, Studio MPL—our art club for kids in first through fifth grade—will have its monthly meeting at 4 p.m. at our Main Branch.

During the last two years, the kids in Studio MPL have made sun catcherspainted sunsetsweaved and even garnered inspiration from Jackson Pollock; so, whatever they have planned for this Monday, it’s going to be fun and creative. (And maybe a little messy.)

Each month, Studio MPL experiments with a different form of art.

Each month, Studio MPL experiments with a different form of art.

Our new Teen Writing Club is also meeting at 4:30 p.m. at our Main Branch. Each month, our young writers get together to hone their craft by trying a different story prompt. This month’s theme is creating complex characters.

If any of these programs interest you, we’d recommend registering for them soon—either by calling Mentor Library or by using our event calendar online. Each of these programs only have so many available slots—our Frozen program on Monday is already completely booked—and we don’t want anyone to get left out because they waited too long to register.

If you have any questions, you can call our Lake Branch at 440-257-2512 or our Main Branch at 440-255-8811. See you at the library!

Our Teen Writing Club tackles different story prompts and shares their stories each month.

Our Teen Writing Club tackles different story prompts and shares their stories each month.

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