Martin Luther King and the Quest for a Just Society

This semester, my freshman seminar course “Faith, Doubt and Reason” focuses on utopias, dystopias, and the quest for community and a just society. Since we start tomorrow, the day after Martin Luther King Day, I moved the readings – in fact, viewings – up to the very first day of class.

Most people are familiar with one snippet of the “I have a dream” speech and the “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech – or perhaps they would be better referred to as sermons. Some have read both in their entirety. But there is something to be gained by actually listening to the words spoken by their author and delivered as he intended. I hope it may turn the “sound bite” into something they can contextualize into a real life, struggle, and context. Not that sound bites from King are bad – often even a few words from him contain amazing power and insight.

I hope students will catch at least some of the Biblical quotations and allusions (see this post at BLT for some examples).

Thanks to Allan Bevere for sharing that King’s papers are available online.

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  • Erp

    There is also the King Institute with

    BTW I recently came across the following speech from 1876 which is a slightly different ‘I have a dream’

    …I have a dream that this world is growing better and better every day and every year; that there is more charity, more justice, more love every day. I have a dream that prisons will not always curse the land; that the shadow of the gallows will not always fall upon the earth; that the withered hand of want will not always be stretched out for charity; that finally wisdom will sit in the legislatures, justice in the courts, charity will occupy all the pulpits, and that finally the world will be governed by justice and charity, and by the splendid light of liberty. That is my dream, and if it does not come true, it shall not be my fault. I am going to do my level best to give others the same chance I ask for myself. Free thought will give us truth; Free labor will give us wealth.
    Ingersoll, 1876, Indianapolis Speech