Martin Luther King Jr.

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The Perfectionist Tradition

The African American perfectionists offered “faith” instead of “hope”—emphasizing the struggle to realize a vision of justice.
Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech.

The Problem With Comparing Today's Activists to MLK

Media coverage of the civil rights movement is a reminder that the deification of King has skewed public memory.
Martin Luther King, Jr. with hands raised in front of bookshelf

Martin Luther King, Critical Race Theorist

Republicans may claim otherwise, but the civil rights hero was no color-blind conservative.
Book cover of "Living the Dream" by Daniel T. Fleming.

Fighting to Desegregate the American Calendar

As a versatile but complex hero, King led a life open to interpretation by politicians and activists of all types who fiercely debated his legacy.
A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. stands larger than life in the center of the frame; two small figures view it in the foreground

The Struggle for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Memory

How political misappropriations of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy fuel right-wing movements.
Martin Luther King preaching at Ebeneezer Church.

Lessons from MLK's Fight to Mobilize the Black Church

The history of Black churches’ struggles offers both warnings and hope for the U.S. today.
Martin Luther King Jr.


A journalistic view of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, work, and representation in American society.

Martin Luther King’s Dream at 60

King offered Americans the choice between acting in accordance with the Constitution and resistance to change.  In many ways, we face the same choice today.
Aftermath of a riot in Washington, D.C., following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s funeral in 1968. Photography by Warren K. Leffler, via the Library of Congress.

After the Murder

Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination was the fateful moment that the wave of hope finally broke for Black America.
Jonathan Big next to cover of "King: A Life."

Restoring the Real, Radical Martin Luther King Jr. in “King: A Life”

A new biography of King emerges at a "critical juncture" for his legacy.
Martin Luther King Jr. with other activists and children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Perilous Power of Respectability

We revere the man and revile the strategy, but King knew what he was doing.
Image of Martin Luther King Jr. within a jail cell.

What Makes Laws Unjust

King could not accomplish what philosophers and theologians also failed to—distinguishing moral from immoral law in a polarized society.
MLK giving his Vietnam speech

“Somehow This Madness Must Cease.”

Revisiting MLK Jr.’s sermon against the Vietnam War.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, and Harry Belafonte near the podium at Montgomery March in 1965.

The “Radical” King and a Usable Past

On Martin Luther King's use of radical ideas to create an understanding of the history of America.
Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. lead a column of demonstrators as they attempt to march on Birmingham, Ala., city hall April 12, 1963. (AP Photo/Horace Cort)

King Was A Critical Race Theorist Before There Was a Name For It

When states ban antiracism history from schools, they're disavowing what King stood for.
MLK at microphone

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King

The King holiday is more than a time for reflection. It’s really a time for provocation.
MLK receiving an honorary degree from the Free University, Amsterdam, October 20, 1956.

The International MLK

“The social revolution which is taking place in this country is not an isolated, detached phenomenon. It is part of a worldwide revolution that is taking place.”
Billboard claiming MLK was a Republican

The Uses and Abuses of the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Politics have diluted King's dream.
Screen capture of Martin Luther King Jr. giving a press conference.

What Martin Luther King Jr. Said About the Filibuster: ‘A Minority of Misguided Senators’

The context in which King shared his views on the filibuster is the same one in which the Senate now finds itself: amid battles over voting rights legislation.
MLK in a police station

Martin Luther King Knew That Fighting Racism Meant Fighting Police Brutality

Critics of Black Lives Matter have held up King as a foil to the movement’s criticisms of law enforcement, but those are views that King himself shared.