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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Initiative

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The Mayor Demings' MLK Initiative Book Club is the brainchild of the Education and Literacy Subcommittee of the MLK Initiative. The goal is to foster a love for literature by promoting books based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s values. Those values include: kindness, fairness and equality, love, selflessness, education, leadership, and hope. Books titles are selected by members of the MLK Initiative and Mayor Jerry L. Demings. Residents are encouraged to participate by finding the selections in their local library and enjoying these inspirational works.

Current Book

Across That Bridge book cover

Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America by John Lewis

Book Review

In Across That Bridge, Congressman John Lewis draws from his experience as a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement to offer timeless wisdom, poignant recollections, and powerful principles for anyone interested in challenging injustices and inspiring real change toward a freer, more peaceful society.

The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis, a close confidant to Martin Luther King, Jr., have never been more relevant. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis has remained a devoted advocate of the discipline and philosophy of nonviolence. Now, in an era in which the protest culture he helped forge has resurfaced as a force for change, Lewis' insights have never been more relevant. In this heartfelt book, Lewis explores the contributions that each generation must make to achieve change.

Book Nominator

Doreen Overstreet, Orange County Staff Member

Lewis has eight chapters in this book and many of them directly talk about and connect to how Dr. King influenced him as a civil rights leader and eventually a politician. The chapters on Patience, Study [Education], Truth [Fairness] and Love definitely directly speak to many of King’s values – and spoke to how those values can and should be continued to be applied today.

The chapter that struck me so deeply with King’s experience was the one about Patience. Lewis asserts that patience is paramount in instituting change – and knowing how to do so in politics is important. For example, he talked about the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC being in the works for 100 years. He talks about all the push it took to make that happen – and patience. Lewis shares that change requires patient, persistent action in everything you do.

As a local government employee, I was moved by Lewis discussing “Building a Beloved Community,” which is defined as a society based on simple justice that values the dignity and worth of every human being. That’s why we strive for when we serve our residents in Orange County.

The following is my favorite excerpt of the book that struck me as so powerful and true. Our government is the people and we do not exist without them. That’s why having their input and involvement in Orange County is so important:

“Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet. Governments and corporations do not live. They have no power, no capacity in and of themselves. They are given life and drive all their authority from their ability to assist, benefit and transform the lives of the people they touch. All authority emanates from the consent of the governed and the satisfaction of the customer.”

I was unaware of the story of Kalief Browder and how he had died trying to defend his innocence – and this book highlighted its significance (much like Emmett Till during the Civil Rights movement). It made me aware of another book called the New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which I currently have on my read list. 

Borrow This Book

Orange County Library: E-Book | Audio Book

Previous Books

Book Nominator Resources
The Servant Leader by James A. Autry Robert Henlon, Fierce Entertainment Management LLC.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult Lisa Bachman, The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead Kelly Quintero, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida
Why We Cant Wait by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Jerry L. Demings, Orange County Mayor
Becoming by Michelle Obama Latisha Thompson, Orlando Utilities Commission
His Truth is Marching On by Jon Meacham, afterword by John Lewis Vera Gray, Orange County Resident, District 5