10 Historians on What People Still Don’essays on martin luther king jr Know About Martin Luther King Jr. Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the April 4, 1968, assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
To mark the anniversary of his death, TIME put the question to 10 experts whose recent or forthcoming books touch on the topic: today, a half-century later, what is something that most people still don’t know about Martin Luther King Jr. Gary Dorrien, author of Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. King, in his last years, was more radical than everyone around him. Chicago, where his lieutenants did not want to go. He got pelted with rocks in Chicago and admonished his staff that white Americans had never intended to integrate their schools and neighborhoods.
After he was gone the memory of King taking the struggle to Chicago, railing against the Vietnam War and economic injustice, emphasizing what was true in the Black Power movement, and organizing a Poor People’s Campaign faded into an unthreatening idealism. King became safe and ethereal, registering as a noble moralist. It became hard to remember why, or even that, King was the most hated person in America during his lifetime. Historians, theorists and African American Studies scholars who remind us to be skeptical of the comfortable, sanitized versions of Martin Luther King Jr. King’s opposition to the Vietnam War or to his late-in-life anti-poverty crusade as evidence of his radicalism. That critique is important, but by focusing on those late-1960s positions, we fail to realize how King demonstrated radical behavior even earlier in his life.
In his book Why We Can’t Wait, which was written in the afterglow of the 1963 March on Washington, King demonstrates that the simple and eloquent dream he articulated on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial was really informed by a multicultural sense of America that transcended the black-white binary and by a class consciousness that was critical of conspicuous consumption and deeply aware of structural inequality. He stood strongly with unions, which he called the strongest antidote to poverty. What most people don’t know is that Martin Luther King Jr. One of my favorite examples of King’s influence came on Mother’s Day, 1963, after a night of rioting in Birmingham, Ala. King acknowledged the complicity of American political institutions in racial discrimination, but he also believed in their power to facilitate democracy in theory and practice. One way King felt that equality could be institutionalized was through enforcement powers of the American presidency. As he explained in an article for The Nation in 1961, the new President John F.
Kennedy could use executive orders, enforcement powers, and presidential appointments to advance societal change. King’s optimism about democratic political institutions, however, declined over time, as he witnessed the increasingly violent opposition to racial justice, complete with challenges to the scope of federal power over state governments. American political system to advance racial justice. Barbara Reynolds, an author of My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King as told to the Reverend Dr.
People are missing the fact that Coretta Scott King was a co-partner with Martin in the greatest and most successful human-rights drive of our era. While she lived she was most often referred to as a wife, and after his death as a widow, but she was more than that. When the movement was getting started, she would give concerts to help fund the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. When the SCLC started in 1957 she presided and gave the first speech. When they were doing the Montgomery bus boycott, one night she was at the house with the baby and there was a thud and the front porch exploded.
Joseph Rosenbloom, author of Redemption: Martin Luther King Jr. The metaphor evokes his legacy as the leader of campaigns for racial justice in many cities. Many people might imagine that he initiated the campaigns just as a drum major heads a band from the outset of its performance. Actually, King was not a prime mover behind any of the civil rights campaigns between 1956 and 1968 for which he is known, except the first one.