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Martin Rising: Requiem For a King

Review

Martin Rising: Requiem For a King

Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

The night before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told a crowd gathered to support the Sanitation Workers Strike in Memphis, “We've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end.” That struggle for equality and compassion, for rights and respect, continues today. The lessons Dr. King taught --- those both gentle and radical --- are ones we are still learning today. Bringing those lessons to life with poetry, art and power are Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney in MARTIN RISING: Requiem for a King.

"MARTIN RISING is a potent tribute to Dr. King and thoughtful and moving exploration of his ideas and influence."

This coffee-table-sized book presents the final months of King’s life in free and flowing poetic verse by Andrea Davis Pinkney. To conclude the word-gifts/that buoyed his people on this/still-winter night,/Martin places a bright bow of hope on top. The black sanitation workers who demanded equal pay and safe work conditions are introduced with their own pages, as is King’s family. Pinkney doesn’t shy away from or downplay the importance of and focus on religion in King’s life and work.

The narrative tension builds as King delivers his final speech. Martin’s words pull us forward/on this passage through time./With King as conductor/on heaven’s railroad,/high above the ground,/we roll ahead. The moments of his murder and of his death are treated honestly, with raw emotion and sparse verse. Wisely, the book does not end there.

The aftermath of his death on his family and community, and the impact of it on our society are given space. How he led us to the mountaintop/on the path of light, love, and truth./He didn’t get there with us./But he showed us the way.

The illustrations by Brian Pinkney in MARTIN RISING are just as flowing and emotional as the verse. From light, bright colors to somber tones, Pinkney’s palette mirrors the emotions and events being described. His brushwork is easy, swirling, gentle and appealing; finely balancing the strong words of the poems.

MARTIN RISING is a potent tribute to Dr. King and thoughtful and moving exploration of his ideas and influence.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on February 26, 2018

Martin Rising: Requiem For a King
Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Illustrated by Brian Pinkney