In this new biography, distinguished historian Paul Harvey examines Martin Luther King’s life through his complex, emerging religious lives. Harvey introduces many readers, perhaps for the first or only time, to the King of diverse religious and intellectual influences, of an increasingly radical cast of thought, and of a mélange of intellectual influences that he aligned in becoming the spokesperson for the most important social movement of twentieth-century American history. Not only does Harvey chronicle King’s metamorphosis and its impact on American and African American life, but he seeks to explain his “afterlives”—how in American culture King became transformed into a mainstream civil saint, shorn of his radical religious critique of how power functioned in America. Harvey’s concise biography will allow readers to see King anew in the context of his time and today.
Paul Harvey is distinguished professor of history and presidential teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and the author of numerous books on American religious history including, with Rowman & Littlefield, Through the Storm, Through the Night: A History of African American Christianity (CHOICE Outstanding), and Bounds of Their Habitation: Race and Religion in American History. He is the coauthor with Edward J. Blum of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in American History, named as one of the top 25 academic books of the year by CHOICE and as one of the Best 5 Books on Religion for 2012 by Publishers Weekly.
Table of Contents
IntroductionThe Redemptive Power of Martin Luther King
1Growing Up King
2The Young Preacher in Boston and Montgomery
3The Montgomery Uprising
4Montgomery and SCLC
5The Dream, the Letter, and the Nightmare
6 Struggling in Selma and Chicago
7Shot Rings Out in the Memphis Sky
EpilogueThe Irrelevance of Sainthood: The Afterlives of King
Paul Harvey’s Martin Luther King: A Religious Life provides a succinct and refreshing perspective on King’s intellectual influences, his development as a thinker and activist during his own time, and the varied ways he has been remembered since his death. Harvey demonstrates that King should not be remembered solely as a moderate advocate of nonviolence but rather as a radical thinker who called for a complete restructuring of American society, politics, and economics. Martin Luther King Jr., Harvey argues, was the most important religious thinker of the 1900s. This book provides an essential window into that religious thought and will be of great benefit to both scholars and the general public alike.
Harvey tells us that King is the most important figure in modern American religious history, and then he shows us why he’s right. This engaging and accessible book synthesizes a generation of cutting-edge King and civil rights scholarship. Here, general readers will meet the King scholars know well: not the comfortable, bland, and conservative token of reconciliation but a preacher committed to a radical message of racial and economic equality, and to moral accountability for systemic injustices.
2/11/21, Choice: Included in Forthcoming Titles in African American Studies feature.