Edited by Lewis V. Baldwin, with Rufus Burrow, Jr., Barbara A. Holmes, and Susan Holmes Winfield
Foreword by Clayborne Carson
The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., explores the development of Dr. King’s understanding of the relationship among religion, morality, law, and politics. This fascinating work is part of a broader effort by scholars in various fields to examine unexplored areas in the life, thought, and activism of Martin Luther King, Jr., and it represents the first book-length treatment of how King united moral-religious convictions and political activity. This timely study is also the first in-depth analysis of King’s views on the roles that religion and morality ought to play, not only in public debate concerning political choices and law, but also in efforts to create political and legal structures that are just.
Beginning with the social, political, and economic implications of King’s vision of the “New South” and his prophetic critique of southern civil religion, this pathbreaking study casts King in the role of “political liberal,” “consummate politician,” and “political theologian.” The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., focuses considerable attention on King’s refusal to separate religious faith and moral considerations from politics, legal matters, and social reformism. In so doing, it demonstrates King’s remarkable ability to transcend church-state boundaries and to formulate an alliance that permeated every facet of American life.
Featuring four chapters by Lewis V. Baldwin—a leading authority on King—as well as a chapter by Rufus Burrow, Jr., and one co-authored by Barbara Holmes and Susan Holmes Winfield, this volume reveals how King moved beyond southern particularism to create a more democratic America and a more inclusive world. Among the topics covered are King’s relationship to various American political traditions and figures, King’s theories of civil disobedience and his understanding of the Constitution, and the influence of moral law and personal idealism on King’s teachings.
“The essays in this collection are a most welcome correction to the widely disseminated view of King as simply another integration-oriented civil rights leader. His legacy is accurately portrayed here as transcending the boundaries of law, politics, and religion, to embody in the twentieth century the spiritual essence of Jesus’ teachings.” —Derrick Bell, author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism
“This is a remarkable book. Looking at the civil rights movement of the 20th Century through the lens of Martin Luther King’s thought and work, it casts a blazing light on the manner in which religion and politics were linked to achieve profound social change. Even more important, the book can be a guidepost in the 21st Century for those who want to apply their Judeo-Christian faith to the unfinished struggle to dismantle the white supremacist structures that have imprisoned us all.” —Anne Braden, writer and social justice activist
“Lewis Baldwin has come closest to defining the mystique of Martin Luther King, Jr. He has succeeded where so many other writers have failed because they only digest some facet of the King phenomenon. Baldwin unveils the globalist aspect of Dr. King’s life and mission for all the world to see. This is a must-read book.” —Wyatt Tee Walker, former Chief of Staff to Dr. King and current Senior Pastor and CEO of the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in New York’s Harlem Community
“In a series of essays that explore the intersection of law, politics, morality and religion in Dr. King’s thought and praxis, The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Boundaries of Law, Politics, and Religion, provide new insights on the reach and limits of the law to eliminate racial injustice. This book substantially enriches our understanding of the pressures, constraints, and efficacy of legal doctrine, legal institutions and litigation to redress past, present and continuing effects of racial and social injustice. Thorough, scholarly, and thoughtful, this book is a rich resource for legal scholars interested in social change.” —Robert Belton, Vanderbilt Law School
“ The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., is the most comprehensive and penetrating study of King’s legacy in law, politics, and religion that has thus far appeared. It is brilliant in analysis, interpenetrating in synoptic overview, and relevant for policy building and nonviolent action.” —Dr. Walter Muelder, mentor to Dr. King and Dean Emeritus of the Boston University School of Theology
“Fresh and provocative, these essays demonstrate that despite the outpouring of print on King, surprising, unplumbed dimensions remain to be explored. Essential for King scholars and for collections on religious studies, civil rights, or the moral politics of contemporary America.” — Library Journal
“Baldwin has established himself among the preeminent scholars on King and the Civil Rights Movement. Baldwin’s scholarship is impressive, and his essays are clear and engaging. This book argues persuasively that King was much more than a dreamer: he was a thinker and activist who had a deep effect on culture and politics; his ideas remain relevant.” — Choice
“These impressive essays argue that not all students of King have accepted, let alone appreciated, his political, economic, legal and religious radicalism. . . .The battle over King’s legacy no doubt will rage on. But Baldwin and his colleagues have rightly called us back to the textual evidence. They have thereby empowered us to fight even more faithfully for the beloved community that King hoped would be his enduring legacy.” — The Christian Century
“. . . each essay makes a notable contribution to the literature. Futhermore, and perhaps as important, the book serves as something of a blueprint for future research. The topical essays manage to cover a great deal of ground and add greatly to our understanding of King’s views on the intertwining nature of law, politics, morality and religion.” — Political Science Quarterly
“This book is worthwhile reading for all who are interested in Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, or the ways in which politics and religion interact.” — Journal of Church and State
“. . . [A] well-researched, well-conceptualized, and well-written book. . . . [S]uitable readings for students at the high school and college levels, not to mention the general reading public.” — MultiCultural Review
“This text portends a unique contribution to understanding King’s legacy and delivers finely. The analysis is sophisticated while remaining accessible to general audiences, and the interdisciplinary focus should prove a great asset to scholars in political theory, legal studies, religion, history and American studies.” — Journal of Southern Religion
“A focused introduction to the social, political, and theological dimensions of King’s thought.” — Journal of Religion