Note: Over the next few days, in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's bold and unusual legacy, I will feature a guest writer, Billy Rojas who will sharing his unique perspective on the man entitled "The Politically Incorrect Martin Luther King". Billy is retired college teacher of history, social science, and Comparative Religion. Though not exclusive to Perspectives,TPICMLK has not gotten wide acclaim. Its good, enjoy.
The Martin Luther King of popular mythology has little relationship to reality. That Martin Luther King is a one dimensional man whose only interest was Civil Rights. The mythological King was also a secular humanist with values entirely consistent with modern day Political Correctness ideology. However, that man never existed.
The article you are about to read debunks modern myths about King, myths that essentially reduce him to a shadow of who he was. Worse, contemporary media-led views seriously distort his basic values. Because the media does not share those values journalists feel uncomfortable coming across them in his writings and in comments about him by those who worked with him while he was alive. In the process, the truth about King is willfully ignored so that a plastic King to the liking of TV news anchors and big city newspaper editors can be presented to the public. Elected officials act in collusion with such myth mongering.
Another way to say much the same thing is to note that those people who make the most of the MLK holiday each January do little or no research into the life of Dr King. And what little research they might carry out is almost all pedestrian and based on stereotypes and commonplaces.
King's memory is used for shallow political or cultural purposes. But the purpose here is to reveal the character of a complex man with an inner life that is NEVER explained to the public.
The point of view expressed in this essay is Radical Centrist. This paper neither takes the view of just the Left or only the Right. Radical Centrist values are both Left and Right in many ways since we believe that neither Left nor Right have a monopoly on the truth, and both Left and Right are fully capable of error. However, there is always more to say than both the Left and Right combined ever tell us -because any meaningful truth about human beings always requires fresh idea and new perspective. It is a fundamental goal of Radical Centrism to seek out good new ideas.
It is also basic to Radical Centrism never to take stands on any issue without first doing all necessary research so that conclusions reached are viable and can pass as many tests of scholarship as it is within reason to think are necessary. The point of view of people in the media seems to be to do as little research as possible, most of that based on the obvious, with no fresh perspective needed. The viewpoint here is the diametric opposite, which will be clear from the outset after these introductory remarks.
Resources used for this article feature The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson. The first 4 volumes of this set were published in 1984. and include all available materials written by King from as far back as records go until the last years of the Eisenhower presidency. A 5th volume, taking the story into the first year of the Kennedy era, was released a few months ago but I have not had access to it In any case, the conclusions arrived at here do not depend on additional letters, memos, sermons, speeches or published articles.
Several standard biographies of King were also consulted in order to understand various phases of his life and career.
Reference is also made to Strength to Love, a collection of sermons by King and edited by him, published in 1963. Also used was A Testament of Hope -The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by James Melvin Washington and published in 1985. A variety of current scholarly sources taken from the Web have also been made use of ; these will be cited in the body of the text.