Weekend Pick for January 14, 2022
Tomorrow, January 15, is Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, and I would like to dedicate this weekend’s pick to honor his life and legacy. Did you know that on November 3, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill marking the third Monday of January, as Martin Luther King Jr. Day? In January 1986, the first national Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone (2017)
Seventeen-year-old Justyce McAllister is a high-school senior and full-scholarship student at Braselton Preparatory Academy with plans for an Ivy League education, a law degree, and a career in public policy, as he explains. Trying to help his ex-girlfriend, Melo, he gets arrested for allegedly having advantage over “the pretty white girl.” The boy’s “upper body slams onto the trunk with so much force, he bites the inside of his check, and his mouth fills with blood,” describes the policeman’s brutality Nic Stone (2017, p. 7). While the arrest doesn’t last long, it deeply scars Justyce and changes his life. He grapples with a question: “How different would things have gone had I not been a black guy?”
Justyce is hurt, angry, and desperate for answers as he deals with the aftermath of arrest, racial violence and fights with classmates, and encounters his former neighborhood friends. He begins a Dear Martin project, a series of letters to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Reflecting on his experiences and struggles, the young man doesn’t just write letters, but tries to find the solution that is non-violent, yet just. “What would Martin do?” Justyce keeps asking himself.
In the final letter to Martin, Justyce realizes that the main question should change to “Who would Martin BE?” This is a switch from an immediate re/action to events to understanding who the person is in the first place. The novel ends with the hope that Justyce has time to figure out who he is and what his beliefs are. Hopefully, these beliefs will drive his decisions and actions.
What are your favorite books to read around this time? Please, share in comments.
Till next weekend,