Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., The

Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., The

  • The Boundaries of Law, Politics, and Religion

  • Edited by Lewis V. Baldwin

  • 336 pages,

  • Paperback | 9780268033552 | March 2002

  • Hardcover | 9780268033545 | March 2002


The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. explores the development of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s understanding of the relationship between 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 and to perpetuate participatory democracy.

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 the Honorable 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.

As debates over faith-based initiatives rage in America’s modern political arena, Baldwin’s lucid analysis of King’s writings on the boundaries that exist between church and state, politics and religion, offers a valuable resource to those engaged in public and private discussions of this important topic.