On Its Way
Fifty Years Since MLK
Harvard Book Store, Boston Review, Mass Humanities, and the Cambridge Public Library welcome acclaimed educators BRANDON M. TERRY, TOMMIE SHELBY, ELIZABETH HINTON, and CORNEL WEST for a panel discussion on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
This discussion will feature Fifty Years Since MLK, the latest Boston Review issue, edited by Brandon M. Terry; and To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. from Harvard University Press, edited by Tommie Shelby and Brandon M. Terry.
About Fifty Years Since MLK
Martin Luther King's legacy for today's activists, fifty years after his death.
Since his death on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King's legacy has influenced generations of activism. Edited and with a lead essay by Brandon Terry, this volume explores what this legacy can and cannot do for activism in the present.
King spent the months leading up to his death organizing demonstrations against the Vietnam War and planning the Poor People's Campaign, a "multiracial army of the poor" that would march on Washington in pursuit of economic justice. Thus the spring of 1968 represented a hopeful albeit chaotic set of possibilities; King, along with countless other activists, offered both ethical and strategic solutions to the multifaceted problems of war, racism, and economic inequality. With a critical eye on both the past and present, this collection of essays explores that moment of promise, and how, in the fifty years since King's death, historical forces have shaped what we claim as a usable past in fighting the injustices of our time.
About To Shape a New World
Martin Luther King, Jr., may be America’s most revered political figure, commemorated in statues, celebrations, and street names around the world. On the fiftieth anniversary of King’s assassination, the man and his activism are as close to public consciousness as ever. But despite his stature, the significance of King’s writings and political thought remains underappreciated.
In To Shape a New World, Tommie Shelby and Brandon Terry write that the marginalization of King’s ideas reflects a romantic, consensus history that renders the civil rights movement inherently conservative―an effort not at radical reform but at “living up to” enduring ideals laid down by the nation’s founders. On this view, King marshaled lofty rhetoric to help redeem the ideas of universal (white) heroes but produced little original thought. This failure to engage deeply and honestly with King’s writings allows him to be conscripted into political projects he would not endorse, including the pernicious form of “color blindness” that insists, amid glaring race-based injustice, that racism has been overcome.
Cornel West, Danielle Allen, Martha Nussbaum, Robert Gooding-Williams, and other authors join Shelby and Terry in careful, critical engagement with King’s understudied writings on labor and welfare rights, voting rights, racism, civil disobedience, nonviolence, economic inequality, poverty, love, just-war theory, virtue ethics, political theology, imperialism, nationalism, reparations, and social justice. In King’s exciting and learned work, the authors find an array of compelling challenges to some of the most pressing political dilemmas of our present and rethink the legacy of this towering figure.