In the past 50 years, thousands of books have been written about the civil rights movement. USA TODAY's Bob Minzesheimer recommends 10 works by historians, journalists, novelists and activists:
• Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964): King was best known for his speeches and sermons, but his writing also could be inspirational, including his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, part of this collection.
• Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by David Garrow (1986): A Pulitzer Prize-winning account of King's religious faith and education, civil rights accomplishments and personal demons.
• Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-1963 by Taylor Branch (1988): Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the first volume in a trilogy that traces King's rise to greatness, his courage and personal conflicts.
• Malcolm & Martin & America: A Dream or a Nightmare by James Cone (1990): A theologian questions if Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were as much polar opposites as is popularly thought.
• Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s Through the 1980s by Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer (1990): The creator and a writer of the acclaimed public TV series Eyes on the Prize draws upon 1,000 interviews with those who took part in the marches, sit-ins and Freedom Rides.
• Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, The Climatic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter (2001): Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, an investigation of the author's hometown and own segregationist family during 1963 when the civil rights movement came into its own.
• Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism (2003): The Library of America's two-volume collection of the best reporting from 1941 through 1973, history in its first draft.
• Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas (2005): A vivid novel about a 19-year-old college student from Michigan who goes to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 to help register blacks to vote.
• Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge (2008): Using police mug shots from 1961 and contemporary photos, the stories of protesters, black and white, who came from across the USA to challenge segregation laws.
• The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (2010). By focusing on three individuals, the author chronicles the mass migration of the nearly 6 million African Americans who left the south between 1915 and 1970, remaking America.