In his last speech, known to history as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” Martin Luther King Jr. began by remarking on the introduction he’d been given by his friend, Ralph Abernathy. “As I listened to ... his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself,” King said modestly, “I wondered who he was talking about.”
The facsimile of King that America would fashion after his assassination—saintly pacifist, stranger to controversy, beloved by all—might have provoked something well beyond wonder. To create a version of King that America could love, the nation sanded down the reality of the man, his ministry, and his activism. In this episode of Radio Atlantic, Vann Newkirk and Adrienne Green join our hosts, Jeffrey Goldberg and Matt Thompson, to discuss the truth of King in the last years of his life and after.
- KING: The Atlantic’s Special Coverage of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life and Legacy
- “The Whitewashing of King’s Assassination” (Vann R. Newkirk, MLK Issue)
- “The Chasm Between Racial Optimism and Reality” (Jeffrey Goldberg, MLK Issue)
- King’s Three Evils (Martin Luther King Jr., May 10, 1967)
- “The Civil-Rights Movement’s Generation Gap” (Bree Newsome, MLK Issue)
- “Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'Letter From Birmingham Jail'” (Martin Luther King Jr., August 1, 1963)
- “How Much Had Schools Really Been Desegregated by 1964?” (Martin Luther King Jr., MLK Issue)
- “Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War” (Martin Luther King Jr., MLK Issue)
- “Generational Differences in Black Activism” (Conor Friedersdorf, June 30, 2016)
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.