TO SHAPE A NEW WORLD by Tommie Shelby


Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
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A collection of thought-provoking essays on the different dimensions of Martin Luther King Jr.’s thought.

Edited by Shelby (African-American Studies and Philosophy/Harvard Univ.; Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform, 2016, etc.) and Terry (African-American Studies and Social Studies/Harvard Univ.), this book demonstrates the necessity of revisiting King’s philosophy and creed of nonviolence. We have historically seen him as a personification of the most deeply rooted features of black political culture and a paragon of virtuosic oratory performance and wisdom. In these essays, readers will be struck by all those who came before him, beginning the struggle and laying the groundwork but not gaining the same limelight. These include Bayard Rustin, Glenn Smiley, and A. Philip Randolph, among many others. King agreed also with W.E.B Du Bois’ view of the race problem as an external factor of color discrimination and an internal factor of the culture of poverty. The contributors touch on a wide variety of vital topics: anger, courageous action, channeling inner rage, and achieving self-respect and the ultimate goal, a sense of dignity, only attainable with political and economic equality. Throughout his career, King sought the middle ground between hatred and acquiescence in his speeches; he was militant enough to arouse but moderate enough to keep that fervor within bounds. He adapted the nonviolence of Gandhi to his revolution, which was not geared to overthrow but to “get in.” Perhaps most importantly, this collection gives us a clear look at the mechanisms of the nonviolent approach, a different option to discrimination instead of submission or violent resistance. Some of the notable contributors include Cornel West, Martha C. Nussbaum, and Danielle Allen.

This is not a quick or easy book. It will take a great deal of thought, rereading, and reflection, but it will make readers stronger and more attuned to social issues. A good choice for any course on King and the civil rights movement.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-674-98075-4
Page count: 430pp
Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2017


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