A Knock at Midnight

By Clayborne Carson, Peter Holloran, Martin Luther King Jr.

365 ratings - 4.55* vote

Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. Before Martin Luther King Jr shared his dream with the nation and the world, he was preaching it from the pulpit of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Known throughout the world as a leader and a visionary in the civil rights movement, R Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my

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Book details

Hardcover, 0 pages
by Warner Books

(first published 1998)

Original Title
A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
044616643X (ISBN13: 9780446166430)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Ope Bukola

As I read “A Knock at Midnight,” a collection of Dr. King’s sermons,I felt as if he was speaking to us now in 2017, and not in the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. King was a preacher first and foremost, but he actively engaged with the social issues of his time: Jim Crow, racism, poverty, Vietnam war. America and the world was experiencing deep upheaval when Dr. King preached these sermons, and he didn’t shy away from speaking to the social issues of his time with a gospel lens.

The things people of King’s time were experiencing - technology upending their ways of life, threat of war, and increasing progressivism that threatens the older order - parallel what Americans are feeling today. In the 1960s, those changes fueled racism, and today they continue to fuel racism, xenophobia, and anti-Islamic sentiment today. People in King’s time called for turning inward and taking care of our own first. He reminded them that the prosperity of the United States is inextricably bound up in the prosperity of the world. And that the prosperity of well-of white Americans and middle class black folks was tied up with the prosperity of poor black mothers in the inner city.

Aaron S

"Love is the only way!"

Michael P.

Dr. King was a profound thinker except when it came to religion. I should out myself as one of the formerly religious who has little tolerance for dogma. Do not give me claims based on faith. I want facts and when facts do not exist to support a conclusion, give me the logic that does.

This book prints sermons, note, SERMONS, from throughout Dr. King’s too short career. As the afterword says, one can see his religious beliefs evolve, or I think I can, because god references become fewer, King uses the word “moral” less often, and the assertion that scripture must be obeyed is infrequent in the later sermons.

These later sermons still have too much god-blubber, but they share more content with his secular speeches. If this is part of Dr. King’s evolution, he evolved in the right direction. The logic that diminishing one person diminishes all, his comments against the war on Viet Nam on the basis of limiting resources to help people at home, and his talk about poverty resonate persuasively. Besides, I have to love anybody who quotes Shakespeare and Schopenhauer in successive sentences. Dr. King is not afraid to show his prodigious learning, but his references always seem apt, never self-impressed.

I wish he had simply spoken about issues in America without the silly beginning to one sermon that quotes conventional Hollywood wisdom as if it were gospel truth. Dr. King bases his entire message on that idea: talk about an appeal to a false authority. I want Dr. King to be better than that, but he was not. I’m going to have to live with that and with the fact that I shall never accomplish a fraction of what he accomplished.

I recommend the audio version of this book in which you hear Dr. King giving the sermons, complete with comments from the parishioners. This is the ideal way to experience them, if you cannot use a time machine to be there yourself. The “Amen”s and other mutterings are part of the experience, and I value them. One auditor especially amused me. He said, “I know,” every few sentences. You have to wonder what he was doing there, if he knew it all already.

For all their flaws, these sermons are worth your time.


What a shame to lose such a smart man. Dr. King was able to take really deep concepts and make them accessable (not a 2nd grade word -- not sure of the spelling). Nevertheless, this is not a book to read in one sitting. I had to stop after each sermon and think about what he was saying, and how it applies to today and to my life. I read this book, not listened to the audio version. It would be awesome to listen to the recorded versions from which the trascripts were made.
The one drawback of the book is that the recordings were interrupted. The loss of even on word of Dr. King's sermons is a loss that humanity should grieve.


This is a CD of some sermons. Makes you think about just how great of a preacher he was in addition to the popular speeches. Interesting to listen to how most of the issues he is speaking on are just as relevant today.


perhaps one of the best purchases i've ever made -- need to get the CD version (i have audio). if anyone needs proof that mlk jr. was prophetic, listen.

Galyn Bunnell

King was truly an amazing man with a heart that has so much to teach. His politcally and spiritually relevant messages of his time are applicable today.


Great book. This is not a book to read in one sitting. I had to stop after each sermon and think about what he was saying, and how it applies to today and to my life.

Bill Johnson

I have read this collection of sermons each year since my senior seminar course at Christian Theological Seminary with Dr. Rufus Burrows, Jr.

Roger Bailey

Thiswas really hard to rate for me. On one hand I admire MLK. I admire him for his accomplishments. I admire him for the cause for which he fought. I admire him as a leader. I admire him in any number of ways and I wanted to give this collection of speeches five stars because of my admiration for MLK. On the other hand, these speeches are not just speeches. They are sermons and sermons promote religion. When someone pushes religion on me I feel like my intelligence is being insulted. I consider it to be utter nonsense and it astounds me that anyone over the age of five can be gullible enough to actually believe in religious doctrine. For that reason when I come across a book that promotes religion I usually give it only one star and really desire to give it a negative number of stars. Listening to these speeches causes me to be a bit amazed at just how much I can disagree with someone I admire in so many ways. So what do I do? Do I give it five stars or do I give it one star. I am settling on three stars because that is right in the middle of being between both choices, but I don't think I could rate this collection of sermons in any way and be comfortable with it.