Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Could Alex Haley's False Quotation of MLK Have Changed History?

    by Peniel E. Joseph

    By exaggerating the conflict between Martin and Malcolm, Haley helped feed a narrative of the two men's approaches to politics as irreconcilable instead of as facets of a more complex struggle for freedom. It has probably helped to push radical demands for justice to the margins. 

  • LBJ was Hoover's Co-Conspirator in the FBI's War on King and Civil Rights

    by Jonathan Eig and Jeanne Theoharis

    Americans have been taught to think of J. Edgar Hoover's efforts to discredit and destroy Dr. King as the work of a singular, personal animus. Recently declassified documents show that President Lyndon Johnson was well aware and supportive of Hoover's efforts, demonstrating the wide resistance of the establishment to challenge. 

  • The Audacious Co-Optation of Dr. King

    "No serious person thinks Dr. King would not want us to interrogate how and why inequity became baked into our systems and how to fix those systems so they don’t keep replicating themselves."

  • Three Historians on the Legacy of the 1963 March on Washington

    William Jones, Adrian Lentz-Smith and Laurie Green discuss the largely-forgotten demands of the marchers for economic redistribution, full employment and labor rights, as well as the impact the march's organizers had on the culture of protest in the United States. 

  • Is King's Dream Still Alive?

    by Peniel E. Joseph

    Although things appear grim on many fronts, the recent success of the Biden administration in passing significant reforms through a divided Senate reflects the broader context of King's 1963 address: progress toward supporting human dignity on many fronts. 

  • MLK and Today's Global Struggle for Democracy

    by Randal Maurice Jelks

    "Thinking about King’s Holt Street speech brings me full circle to contemporary times as I try to understand this most anti-democratic era, one not seen since the 1930s as the clouds of World War II loomed on the horizon."

  • What Makes Laws Unjust?

    by Randall L. Kennedy

    In Dr. King's time, appraisals of his civil disobedience tactics hinged on how one defined an unjust law, an obstacle that inevitably confronts protest movements in polarized societies.

  • Americans Misunderstand the Radical Vision of even the Young MLK

    by Victoria W. Wolcott

    Long before the escalation of the war in Vietnam, urban unrest and national battles for fair housing that animated King's late work, he expressed a vision of justice that demanded systemic transformation of American society. His wife Coretta was a profound influence. 

  • Annette Gordon-Reed: Don't Accept "Cuddly" King Image

    The late leader's opposition to militarism, economic injustice, and white supremacy, which sustained a broad critique of capitalist society, have been sanitized and reduced to platitudes by people who would prefer not to recognize the equality of all people, the historian told the annual MLK Memorial Breakfast.