Cover image for I've seen the promised land : the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I've seen the promised land : the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, c2004.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 27 cm.
Added Author:
Pictures and easy-to-read text introduce the life of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 921 KING 1 1
Book E 921 KING 0 1

On Order



Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the most celebrated figures of the twentieth century. A crusader for nonviolent social justice, he led African Americans in their demands for equality through peaceful protests during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history.

Set against key moments in the civil rights movement, here is the story of the powerful, eloquent spiritual leader and his belief that nonviolence could be used to overcome racial discrimination.

Walter Dean Myers's moving narrative and Leonard Jenkins's compelling paintings portray a vivid and striking image of the man who moved American society closer to the ideals of freedom and fairness. Dr. King's dream that all Americans would be judged by their individual actions and character is one we still cherish today.

Author Notes

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write.

He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother.

He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-This eloquent picture book presents a brief overview of King's life and accomplishments. The text focuses on events beginning with the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks and King's leadership during the yearlong boycott that eventually resulted in the integration of buses in Montgomery, AL. The book ends with his support of the striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968 and his assassination a few days later. In a clear and cogent manner, Myers frames King's political efforts and his belief in nonviolent demonstration for change with information about the personal consequences to the man and his family. The author also paraphrases some of his subject's most powerful speeches without quoting them directly. Jenkins's stunning collage artwork dramatically reflects the events described in the narrative. Information about how protestors were frequently assaulted is paired with an abstract street scene, the frighteningly toothy profile of a chalk-white guard dog front and center. In a spread depicting King's famous speech about seeing the promised land, he is shown with his arms gracefully yet compellingly uplifted; the power and beauty of his words are reflected in the brightly colored background, while fiery red tones foreshadow his murder. This book makes an excellent starting point to introduce young readers to King and should be coupled with Doreen Rappaport's Martin's Big Words (Hyperion, 2001), which so effectively provides access to the words that made him famous.-Susan M. Moore, Louisville Free Public Library, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Although in their Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly Myers and Jenkins concentrated a great deal on Malcolm X's childhood, in this concise chronicle of Martin Luther King Jr.'s crusade for civil rights, they highlight the pivotal points in his work. They begin with his role as leader of the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., sparked by Rosa Parks's arrest after she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. Mohandas Gandhi, Malcolm X and John F. Kennedy number among those whom the author cites as individuals who touched the life of this remarkable Nobel Peace Prize winner. Myers's balanced narrative touches upon King's triumphs (notably his renowned "I Have a Dream Speech," delivered during the 1963 March on Washington) as well as the hatred and brutality he endured during his lifetime. Jenkins's (A Good Night for Freedom, reviewed above) mixed-media paintings are involving but never graphic (he illustrates assault by fire hose and dogs, for instance, with an abstract painting of shadowy silhouettes of policemen and a dog tugging a piece of clothing). This picture book soars to the heart of King's mission, demonstrating the challenges of adhering to nonviolent methods when faced with so much violence in return. Jenkins's boldly hued illustrations capture lifelike renderings of King and other prominent figures while also incorporating backgrounds with a kaleidoscopic amalgam of shapes and symbols. Ages 5-8. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

This picture book biography of Dr. King is distinguished by its emphasis on the hostility King encountered for pursuing social justice through nonviolence and by the narrative's framing device: the book both begins and ends in 1968, the year of his assassination. Jenkins's mixed-media illustrations are commanding. Timeline. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Following up their portrait of Malcolm X (2000), Myers briefly traces Dr. King's career, and Jenkins adds kaleidoscopic collages that both depict major incidents and figures of the Civil Rights movement, and capture the time's turmoil. Dr. King certainly doesn't lack for biographers, but Myers is unusually even-handed, highlighting King's nonviolent philosophy while viewing the Movement's angrier, more violent outbursts with a certain degree of--not sympathy, exactly, but understanding. Though Jenkins's images are sometimes over the top, as when he outfits the four children killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing with angel wings, and Myers frequently slips paraphrased lines from Dr. King's speeches into his narrative--"He said that he had been to the mountaintop and seen the promised land. He knew he might not reach that land . . . "--the balance of fact and feeling makes this a strong follow-up to Doreen Rappaport's Martin's Big Words (2002). (Picture book/biography. 5-8) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

PreS-Gr. 3. Dr. Martin Luther King is perhaps the most frequently requested biography subject, so there's always room for another book about the heroic leader, especially when it's a picture-book biography as good as this one. The focus here is on his public image, and words and art combine the essentials of his life story with an overview of the civil rights movement. Jenkins' dramatic, double-page collage illustrations set close-up portraits of the leader against crowd scenes of political marches and violent conflict. Then, after the glory of the March on Washington, there's a double-page spread showing the horror of the Birmingham deaths. The book ends with King's assassination, but words and pictures show his strength and his enduring message against racism and for peace. This is for a younger audience than Myers and Jenkins' Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly (2000). There's also much less here about the subject's personal struggle, but when read together, the two titles will stimulate debate about issues of protest and nonviolence. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2003 Booklist