“This is an interim assessment of a man and the mood he mediates. Martin Luther King’s youth and his continuing development as a man and as a national leader preclude a more definitive study, which must, of necessity, await the unfolding of events. King’s pervasive influence, however, justifies an interim assessment …” With these words Lerone Bennett started the very first biography of Martin Luther King in 1964. At that time King was 35 years old and had just won the Nobel Peace Prize for his pivotal role as a champion of civil rights in America.
The book gives a fairly detailed account of King’s life and the author tries to portray King’s mental and psychological development. He attempts to identify the reasons why King became a minister and how he quite unintentionally grew to become the inspiring leader of the civil rights movement.
What makes this book special is that Lerone Bennett was a fellow student of Martin Luther King at Morehouse College in Atlanta. This means that Bennett could rely on his own experiences and on the cooperation of King himself. He also recorded the accounts of King’s wife Coretta Scott, King’s friends and other people in his entourage.
Besides this biography of Martin Luther King, Bennett has also written other important works, including ‘Before the Mayflower: a History of Black America, 1619-1962’.