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The Radical King
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The Radical King
A revealing collection that restores Dr. King as being every bit as radical as Malcolm X"The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking...
A revealing collection that restores Dr. King as being every bit as radical as Malcolm X"The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking...
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  • A revealing collection that restores Dr. King as being every bit as radical as Malcolm X

    "The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking place in capitalist societies. . . . The response of the radical King to our catastrophic moment can be put in one word: revolution--a revolution in our priorities, a reevaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life, and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens. . . . Could it be that we know so little of the radical King because such courage defies our market-driven world?" --Cornel West, from the Introduction

    Every year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is celebrated as one of the greatest orators in US history, an ambassador for nonviolence who became perhaps the most recognizable leader of the civil rights movement. But after more than forty years, few people appreciate how truly radical he was.

    Arranged thematically in four parts, The Radical King includes twenty-three selections, curated and introduced by Dr. Cornel West, that illustrate King's revolutionary vision, underscoring his identification with the poor, his unapologetic opposition to the Vietnam War, and his crusade against global imperialism. As West writes, "Although much of America did not know the radical King--and too few know today--the FBI and US government did. They called him 'the most dangerous man in America.' . . . This book unearths a radical King that we can no longer sanitize."

    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One “I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. . . . [Capitalism] started out with a noble and high motive . . . but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against.” —Letter to Coretta Scott, July 18, 1952

    “There is another America, and that other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. . . . By the millions, people in the other America find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. . . . The great tragedy is that the nation continues in its national policy to ignore the conditions that brought the riots or the rebellions into being. . . . The problem with a riot is that it can always be halted by superior force, so I couldn’t advise that. On the other hand, I couldn’t advise following a path of Martin Luther King just sitting around signing statements, and writing articles condemning the rioters, or engaging in a process of timid supplications for justice. The fact is that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed—that’s the long, sometimes tragic and turbulent story of history.” —“The Other America,” delivered by Dr. King at the Local 1199’s “Salute to Freedom,” New York City, March 10, 1968

About the Author-

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and architect of the nonviolent civil rights movement, was among the twentieth century's most influential figures. One of the greatest orators in US history, King also authored several books, including Stride Toward Freedom, Where Do We Go from Here, and Why We Can't Wait.King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
    Cornel West has been profoundly influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A professor at Union Theological Seminary, Dr. West has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. The recipient of more than twenty honorary degrees, he has written many important books, including the best-selling Race Matters and Democracy Matters. He lives in New York City.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 10, 2014
    This selection of King’s writings and speeches ably introduces historical neophytes to the great civil rights leader’s “radical” side, though readers may feel a disconnect between his empathetic words and the scathing introduction from West (Race Matters). The book does include some of King’s most famous writings, such as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” but also lesser-known passages dealing with his opposition to the Vietnam War and concern with American poverty outside as well as within the black community. Throughout, King’s skills as a preacher and rhetorician are amply in evidence, as is his profound empathy with others, even after a bombing at King’s home that almost killed his wife and child. West, perhaps President Obama’s most prominent African-American critic, uses the introduction to assert that “surely” King would not have wanted the first black U.S. president to serve up a “Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, and surveillance presidency with a vanishing black middle class, devastated black working class, and desperate black poor people clinging to fleeting symbols and empty rhetoric.” Not everyone will feel that accurately imagining King’s attitudes towards President Obama is as straightforward as West would have it; his use of academic terminology, meanwhile, might prove an impediment to the lay reader he is targeting. Agent: Gloria Loomis, Watkins Loomis.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2014
    A reframing of Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy to celebrate his political radicalism.As the civil rights movement was shifting more toward Black Power militancy, King was occasionally criticized as a moderate whose nonviolent philosophy needed to give way to a more confrontational style, one that seemed more in tune with the tenor of the times and the temper of younger activists. As editor and annotator, the provocative scholar West (Black Prophetic Fire, 2014, etc.) maintains that King and Malcolm X, for example, were becoming allies rather than remaining polarities as black leaders and that King's leadership was not only more radical than frequently recognized, but also more pragmatic and visionary. From sermons and speeches to the "Letter from Birmingham Jail," much of this material is oft-anthologized, with the chronological context showing the intellectual and philosophical progression of a leader who was more radical than many suspected from the start. Tributes to W.E.B. Du Bois and Norman Thomas reinforce King's radical sympathies, as do his reflections on reading Marx (he was ambivalent about both communism and capitalism). "King and [Nelson] Mandela are the two towering figures in the past fifty years in the world," writes West. "Both have been Santa Clausified-tamed, domesticated, sanitized, and sterilized-into nonthreatening and smiling old men....Yet both were radical and revolutionary." Permeating the collection is the theme of "radical love," distinguishing King from those who preached hate toward the white oppressor or saw no place for whites in the fight for equality. "The aftermath of violence is always bitterness," he preached in a sermon on Gandhi. "The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of...a new love and a new understanding and a new relationship...between the oppressed and the oppressor." Though many of the entries are familiar, this useful collection takes King from the front lines of Southern segregation to a national movement for economic equality to an international condemnation of imperialism and armed intervention.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from January 1, 2015

    With an introduction and 23 edited sermons, speeches, and writings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68), West (philosophy & Christian practice, Union Theological Seminary, NY; Prophesy Deliverance!) seeks to display and perpetuate King's legacy by sharing his views and visions on radical love. This collection marches in contrast to the now-commonplace vision of King; often sanitized in quotes without context and propped to support colorless conciliation. West presents a portrait of King as a democratic socialist committed to human decency and dignity, a challenger of capitalism advocating for a better distribution of wealth, and a dissenting patriot fighting for peace and against colonialism, who beyond denouncing U.S. involvement in Vietnam, confronted America as a "nightmare" of "racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism." The unanswered question throughout West's latest work is whether the United States has the capacity to hear and heed the radical King. VERDICT This volume features a popularly referenced spiritual giant too seldom recognized in his true dimensions. Readers looking to discover the "real" Martin Luther King Jr., revolutionary Christianity, social justice, or the state of contemporary America will enjoy West's provocative and pithy work as it calls on King to speak again about America, the world, and "where we go from here."--Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publishers Weekly "King's skills as a preacher and rhetorician are amply in evidence, as is his profound empathy with others."

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