Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
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.
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About the Author
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.
"Yanco's important book is a reminder that when we raise a transformative figure to a pedestal, we mustn't overlook their most challenging beliefs, even (or especially) if those beliefs force us to realize how far we still have to go."--Biographile
"A succinct eighty-one-page reminder that Americans currently experience collective amnesia when it comes to Martin Luther King Jr."--H-Net
"Dr. King is one of the most celebrated great leaders the world has ever known. In his short life, he rose to become the main icon in the fight for justice, equality and non-violence. Yet, many of us, especially the younger generations, do not know who he was or what he really stood for. In this well written and evidence-based book, Jennifer Yanco takes us through the life and legacy of Dr. King. The book is a clear and eloquent analysis of Dr. King's work. It brings back the truth about Dr. King's messages and compels us to seriously consider how we should go forward. It sets off by reminding us of what we collectively now remember. Then what is forgotten, chiefly Dr. King's Warning about the 'Giant Triplets' - militarism, materialism, and racism. To close, she discusses why all of this matters and why we are all challenged to decide and work on 'where do we go from here: chaos or community'. This comes at a crucial time when fallacies, biased records and information, disseminated via traditional and social media, dominate. History is distorted and the future towards a 'Beloved community' made more and more hopeless. Despite changes in the US administration like the election and two terms of President Obama, we still live in a world where hopes are repeatedly shattered. The challenge then is whether to become jaded and totally give in or are we '... willing to reclaim the memory of Dr. King as fierce advocate for justice who spoke truth to power and had the courage to resist the lure of easy violence...' In the words of Vincent Harding, will we really see King?"