Your Image of Dr. Martin Luther King is Likely Wrong

(Here is the first part of a piece I wrote for Biblical Seminary’s Blog. You can click over to read the post in its entirety).

Everybody loves Martin Luther King Jr., or at least they love the idea they have of him. There is nothing provocative about naming him as one of your favorite American heroes, quoting lines from his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, or referring to him in one way or another to suggest how we can become that “beloved community” he often spoke about. In fact, our usage of Martin Luther King Jr., more times than not, would be in direct conflict with Dr. King himself, and the actual life and commitments he held to.

“Our” Dr. King that we celebrate each year has been completely co-opted by the right and the left to further the shallow partisan ideological work in American society. Dr. King’s legacy has been thoroughly domesticated, like a house cat after being de-clawed and neutered. He is now safe. Safe to mold into our projections of who we want him to be. Dr. King is no longer a radical prophetic voice of a Christian preacher crying out in the wilderness. Instead, after he died, we built him a monument to adore, after our liking, and gave it a seat at the emperor’s table. However, the prophet never sits and fellowships at the table with an imperial ruler. The prophet is not accepted by the social order it speaks life into because he is always seen as a threat.

Read the rest at Biblical Seminary’s site.


  1. bernasvibe · January 20, 2014

    @..”We often show clips of Dr. King in a whole plethora of dangerous situations in the south, and Northern white Americans look on with a sense of paternalistic condescension. However, in the late 60s, Northern whites responded eerily similarly when faced with the possibility of ‘negroes’ moving into their ‘vanilla’ neighborhoods…” >>A mouthful , indeed! Many don’t know this to be truth..Namely, because the white washed history books have watered down the truth..This was an excellent write ! Truly enjoy and appreciated reading it. Especially today. Actually just about any day!

    • Drew Hart · January 20, 2014

      Deeply appreciated. The reality vs. the white-washed history couldn’t be any more conflicting. Thanks for sharing.

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