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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

Dear Martin book cover

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Book Review

Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

Book Nominator

Beth Jackson, Orange County Staff Member

I read the book around the time of several national issues involving police and the African American Community. It provided context and perspective on those current issues that face the African American Community.

The book was a work of fiction, the main character Justyce was an honor student, and a good kid who was struggling to still fit into his community and the environs of a preparatory school in which he was attending on a scholarship. His world was turned upside down when he was arrested for trying to assist his then-girlfriend who was drunk at the time despite the girl’s family defense of him. As a means of coping, he would write letters to Dr. Martin Luther King in his diary to try to navigate the two different environments he was living in and did not feel as though he truly fit into either one. His letters would explore the values listed below as a mean to seek answers from Dr. King and validation that he was doing the right thing as espoused by Dr. King’s writings and speeches.

The book highlighted the following Dr. King’s values: fairness, equality, leadership, education, and forgiveness.

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 Can't 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
Across That Bridge by John Lewis Doreen Overstreet, Orange County Staff Member
A Promised Land by Barack Obama Lucas Boyce, Orange County Staff Member & District 2 Resident