MLK and Civil Rights: Countering the Conventional Narrative

January 15, 2018
to shape a new world cover
Professor Tommie Shelby, Caldwell Titcomb Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy, and Brandon Terry, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, have co-edited a new book on Martin Luther King, Jr. that challenges longstanding conventional narratives of King and of the Civil Rights Movement that have drained it of its radical political character.

As its title--To Shape a New World--makes clear, Shelby and Terry-- along with the book's contributors--see King as advancing a political philosophy and engaged in forms of activism aimed at radically transforming America and the world, not restoring or returning them to a set of values from which they had drifted. In the book's own words, the persistent "failure to engage deeply and honestly with King’s writings allows him to be conscripted into political projects he would not endorse, including the pernicious form of “color blindness” that insists, amid glaring race-based injustice, that racism has been overcome."

The publication of Shelby and Terry's book was the occasion for an informative Q&A with them conducted by writers for the Harvard Gazette and released in time for the MLK holiday. You can read it in its entirety here.
See also: Department News