Misremembering Dr. King

Misremembering Dr. King

Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Jennifer J. Yanco
Distribution: World
Publication date: 2/6/2014
Format: paper 110 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-01416-0
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Description

We all know the name. Martin Luther King Jr., the great American civil rights leader. But most people today know relatively little about King, the campaigner against militarism, materialism, and racism—what he called the “giant triplets.” Jennifer J. Yanco takes steps to redress this imbalance. “My objective is to highlight the important aspects of Dr. King’s work which have all but disappeared from popular memory, so that more of us can really 'see' King.” After briefly telling the familiar story of King’s civil rights campaigns and accomplishments, she considers the lesser-known concerns that are an essential part of his legacy. Yanco reminds us that King was a strong critic of militarism who argued that the United States should take the lead in promoting peaceful solutions rather than imposing its will through military might; that growing materialism and an ethos of greed was damaging the moral and spiritual health of the country; and that in a nation where racism continues unabated, white Americans need to educate themselves about racism and its history and take their part in the weighty task of dismantling it.

Author Bio

Born in Boston, Jennifer Yanco grew up in the Pacific Northwest and served four years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Central and West Africa. In 1999, she developed and taught an adult education course, “White People Challenging Racism: Moving from Talk to Action. Taught by an ever-expanding group of instructors, the course continues to draw a wide range of students. Yanco holds an M.S. from the Harvard School of Public Health and a Ph.D. in Linguistics and African Studies from Indiana University. She is currently the US Director of the West African Research Association and a Visiting Researcher at the African Studies Center at Boston University.

Reviews

"A lucid and eloquent analysis of the ways that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s messages and historical record have been sanitized and distorted." —Julia Mongo, World Music Director, WMBR, Cambridge, Mass.

"Recalls a Dr. King more militant and pointed in his critique of American society . . . . For many readers this will be something of a shock." —Jack M. Bloom, author of
Class, Race, and the Civil Rights Movement

"This important book reminds us of Dr. King’s blueprint for changing the social political economic structure of our culture and shows us how we have adopted ways of being, seeing, believing, and living that go contrary to the core message of Dr. King.



It is important that today’s youth understand the gap between the annual media hype on his birthday with what Dr. King actually said. We have used the auditory splendor of his “I Have a Dream” speech to induce a sort of hypnosis that covers up the fact that Dr. King was talking about making major changes in the social, political, and economic relationships that exist in this country; he was talking about restructuring a system that produces poverty.



Jennifer Yanco reminds us that in this speech, Dr. King spoke about America’s check to its people—a check that was returned, marked ‘insufficient funds.’ She catalogues some of the costs to our society of failing to make sure there are sufficient funds to honor the check—in terms of housing, jobs, education, and other social goods. Jogging our memories about Dr. King can provide today’s youth with guidance for rebuilding our society to focus on love and respect for one’s neighbors and where we begin again to take on the challenge of creating the Beloved Community Dr. King spoke of." —Melvin H. King,
Emeritus, Urban Studies and Planning, MIT, and Former Massachusetts State Representative

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Memory and Forgetting
The Misappropriation of Memory
1. What We Remember
Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement
Dr. King and Nonviolence
2. What We Forget: Dr. King's Warning about the "Giant Triplets"
Militarism
Materialism
Racism
3. Why It Matters
Whose Problem? White America's Special Responsibility
A Challenge for All of Us
Notes
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