Martin Luther King Jr.’s words defined, mobilized, and embodied much of the American civil rights movement, crystallizing the hope and demand for racial justice in America. His powerful sermons and speeches were unique in their ability to unite blacks and whites in the quest for reform. In the first full-length study of King’s language, Keith D. Miller explores his words to find the intellectual roots, spiritual resonances, and actual sources of the speeches and essays that continue to reverberate in America’s mind and conscience.
Miller argues that King’s skillful borrowing and blending of the black oral and white written traditions was in fact the key to his language and to his effectiveness. It made his message of hope and deliverance accessible to all people and enabled blacks and whites to move in harmony to action and commitment.