Crusader Without Violence

The First Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

L. D. Reddick

Introduction by Derryn E. Moten

Title Details

Pages: 320

Illustrations: 23 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 09/01/2018

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8350-1

List Price: $23.95


Pub Date: 06/01/2018

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8351-8

List Price: $23.95


NewSouth Books

Crusader Without Violence

The First Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

L. D. Reddick

Introduction by Derryn E. Moten

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Published to critical acclaim in 1959 and long out of print, Crusader Without Violence was the first biography of the dynamic leader who emerged from the 1955–56 Montgomery Bus Boycott as the spokesman of the twentieth-century American civil rights movement. NewSouth's 60th Anniversary Edition, with a new introduction containing new biographical details about its author, returns to general circulation a valuable, rare, and engaging account of Martin Luther King Jr. before he became an American phenomenon.

The author, L. D. Reddick, had known the young King in Atlanta. They became reacquainted when Reddick moved to Montgomery in 1956, where King pastored the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Reddick became a congregant and King's friend and was active with him during the bus protest. He was thus able to report firsthand and at length on King within the setting of the young minister's early career and family life.

Paradox and contrast marked King from the first. Born and schooled in a relatively comfortable segment of Atlanta's black community, he decided to take the part of the underdog. With a PhD from Boston University and a likely career in teaching or a northern ministry, he chose instead to return to a Southern community. Short, soft-spoken, and scholarly, he was thrown into a situation that required stature, tough-mindedness, and ability to move the masses.

How he emerged into an unsought role of mentor, strategist, spokesman, and leader of a movement that took a major stride toward freedom is the story Reddick tells in Crusader Without Violence. The book peers intimately into the lives of African Americans in the South at that critical juncture—a few years after the Brown decision but before the sit-ins, freedom rides, and voting rights demonstrations resulted in sweeping change in the 1960s.

Reddick himself was noteworthy, a distinguished historian who would soon fall victim to Alabama's rigidly segregationist state government. Derryn Moten, the champion of this new edition, provides an introduction that puts Reddick's biography of King into context, updates Reddick's life after he was forced to leave his teaching position in Montgomery, and explains why Crusader Without Violence—notwithstanding the hundreds of books published on King's life since this one—remains a significant historical document.

An invaluable contemporary resource now wonderfully available again for a new generation of students of Dr. King's life.

—David J. Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bearing the Cross and Rising Star

NewSouth Books renders a great service in bringing this lost gem of scholarship back into circulation. Only one who was present at the creation, as Dr. Reddick was, could provide such a compelling contemporary account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the early life of its leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This book is an indispensable complement to Dr. King's own memoir, Stride Toward Freedom, which was published at the same time. Together, the two books had to be the starting point for all future scholarship.

—Ray Jenkins, former editor at the Montgomery Advertiser-Journal, the Baltimore Sun, and other newspapers

The merit of this fine biography is that it rests upon personal acquaintance and first-hand knowledge of its subject and not merely on documents.

—W. E. B. Du Bois

With the release of Crusader without Violence back in 1959, Lawrence D. Reddick actually initiated the biography genre in King studies. Reddick introduced readers to the complex and dynamic world of young Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal, intellectual, social, and political life. The republication of this groundbreaking book, with a new introduction by Dr. Derryn Moten, places in bold relief the possibility that it will remain the seminal work on the most celebrated religious and civil rights figure in twentieth-century America.

—Dr. Lewis V. Baldwin, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies, Vanderbilt University

Sixty years after its publication, Crusader Without Violence remains a uniquely revealing account of the development of King's visionary ideals and of his rapid rise to international prominence.

—Clayborne Carson, Martin Luther King Jr., Centennial Professor of History, Stanford University

Praise for Crusader Without Violence partly goes to Dr. Derryn Moten for championing its republication. This important work allows for a better understanding of the profound contributions of Dr. King as seen through the lens of the author, L. D. Reddick. It also allows a reassessment of the bold contributions of students, faculty, and staff at Alabama State College (now University) at the outset of the civil rights movement. Many important blanks in the early history of the movement are filled in with the reissue of this book.

—Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, former president, Alabama State University

About the Author/Editor

LAWRENCE DUNBAR REDDICK (1910-1995) did research and taught history in Kentucky, New York City, Atlanta and Montgomery. He held a PhD from the University of Chicago. For nine years he was curator of the unique Schomburg Collectio of Negro Literature of the New York Public Library. He was a professor of history at the University of Atlanta, at Temple University, and at Coppin State College. He was a visiting professor of Afro-American studies at Harvard University and taught Afro-American history at Dillard University in New Orleans from 1978-1987. He was the author of Our Cause Speeds On and co-author of The Southerner as American and Worth Fighting For: The History of the Negro in the United States During the Civil War and Reconstruction.