The Developing Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
This research will examine the thought, life, and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. The research will set forth the conditions under which Dr. King's intellectual life was shaped and then discuss ways in which he made use of these ideas and teachings to form his views of the role of religion in fostering social justice.
Martin Luther King, Jr., had his roots deeply within what might be described as the black version of the American dream, in the sense that he was born into more comfortable economic circumstances than most other blacks in America in the 1930s. At the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1929, King, Sr. was pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and also a member of what has been aptly called "black bourgeois Atlanta" (Lewis 8). In consequence, young King was "insulated against the most brutal aspects of Southern bigotry" (Lewis 11).
King, Sr. was prominent in civic affairs, serving in Atlanta's NAACP and various interracial alliances, as well as on the boards of directors of several organizations (C. King 82-3), including Citizens Trust Company, Morehouse College, Atlanta University (a historically black college), and the National Baptist Convention. As "proof positive" of black-bourgeoisie success, King would experience wonderment at the fact that his children "did not see things his way" (Reddick 76). This was largely true of King, Jr., particularly as his formal education progressed.
In 1944, King entered Atlanta's Morehouse College, a privately funded black college institution. The authorized "autobiography" of King cites his reading of Thoreau's essay "On Civil Disobedience" as a formative lesson in "creative protest" (Carson 14). At Morehouse, King first planned to study law or medicine, but he gradually judged himself "both temperamentally and intellectually unsuited" (Lewis 19; Coretta King 84) for either. The decision to enter the ...