I wore this shirt for this year’s secular Feast of our Brother among the Saints Martin Luther King, Jr. My father and I acquired this shirt while visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis the summer before I started grad school.
On the night he was assassinated, King was in Memphis organizing sanitation workers. His work had developed from his nonviolent work on desegregation in the South to a radical call for ‘revolution of values’ linking the Vietnam War to class struggle and racial justice in the United States. The philosophical and theological impetus for this development was a focus on personhood, as opposed to treating persons like objects. The sanitation workers heard this call and wore shirts that read ‘I Am a Man.’ Perhaps some will ask why it does not read, ‘I am a person,’ but maybe the developments of black feminism in the seventies might be seen as a critical furthering of the intersectional analysis for which King was ultimately martyred.