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What do you really know about Martin Luther King Jr.?
This guide is meant to introduce you to diverse perspectives on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King and challenge you to adopt a critical lens when considering these perspectives. Explore the guide to learn more about MLK and the civil rights movement he inspired.
What would MLK say?
Based on what you have learned about MLK, how would he respond to current race issues today?
Tweet your response with #mlkspeaksnow
The "I Have a Dream" Speech
Economics and Racial Inequality
How might you research racial inequality from an economic perspective?
- Search for terms like race, poverty, justice and inequality using the resources in the Economics Guide
- Consider what sources of data indicate inequality in wage and income. See data sources like U.S. Census and Labor Indicators
About this Guide
Purpose of the Guide
This guide is meant to introduce you to diverse perspectives on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King and challenge you to adopt a critical lens when considering these perspectives. Explore the guide to learn more about MLK.
Key Perspectives Covered
Questions to Consider
- From what perspectives do people typically not discuss Martin Luther King?
- What factors have influenced the dominant narrative of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement as it exists today?
Feminism, Women, and the Civil Rights Movement
Women's Voices in the Civil Rights Movement
Despite the fact that many notable Civil Rights Activists were women, such as Rosa Parks, women's perspective in the movement are often glossed over. Below are some resources that demonstrate how women and women's rights were central in the role in the the Civil Rights Movement but were often jeopardized throughout the movement.
SNCC Position Paper: Women in the Movement
Women on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the most important organizations during the Civil Rights Movement, spoke out against sexism within the SNCC in this document
At the Dark End of the Street
Call Number: E185.61 .M4777 2010
The author gives us the never-before-told history of how the civil rights movement began; how it was in part started in protest against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men who used economic intimidation, sexual violence, and terror to derail the freedom movement; and how those forces persisted unpunished throughout the Jim Crow era when white men assaulted black women to enforce rules of racial and economic hierarchy.
Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965
Publication Date: 2009-01-01
Only recently have historians begun to recognize the central role women played in the battle for racial equality. In Sisters in the Struggle, we hear about the unsung heroes of the civil rights movements such as Ella Baker, who helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper who took on segregation in the Democratic party (and won), and Septima Clark, who created a network of "Citizenship Schools" to teach poor Black men and women to read and write and help them to register to vote. We learn of Black women's activism in the Black Panther Party where they fought the police, as well as the entrenched male leadership, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where the behind-the-scenes work of women kept the organization afloat when it was under siege.
Explore More on Women in the Civil Rights Movement
Consider what key terms appear often in the above sources (i.e. SNCC, "black women," specific names, "sexual violence"). Use these terms to search the resources on the Gender and Sexuality Study Page.
LGBT Rights and MLK
King and Bayard Rustin
Martin Luther King Jr. worked closely with Bayard Rustin, who was openly gay. In fact, much of Rustin's philosophy on non-violence shaped the ideology that King is known for, and Rustin was influential in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was pivital to the civil rights movement.
Time on Two Crosses
Call Number: E185.615 .R84 2003
Time on Two Crosses showcases the extraordinary career of this black gay civil rights pioneer. Spanning five decades, the book combines classic texts ranging in topic from Gandhi’s impact on African Americans, white supremacists in Congress, the antiwar movement, and the assassination of Malcolm X, with never-before published selections on the call for gay rights, Louis Farrakhan, affirmative action, AIDS, and women's rights.
MLK, the Civil Rights Movement and Economics
Situating the "I Have a Dream" Speech in Context
MLK's famous "I Have a Dream" speech took place at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which linked civil rights with economic rights.
Note the economic language in the 3rd and 4th paragraphs of the speech.
With this in mind, what was MLK's take on Economics? And what does Economics say about Racial Inequality?
The Economics of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
Sharing the Prize
Call Number: eBook
The civil rights movement was also a struggle for economic justice, one that until now has not had its own history. "Sharing the Prize" demonstrates the significant material gains black southerners made in improved job opportunities, quality of education, and health care from the 1960s to the 1970s and beyond. Because black advances did not come at the expense of southern whites, Gavin Wright argues, the civil rights struggle was that rarest of social revolutions: one that benefits both sides.
Power to the Poor
Call Number: eBook
The Poor People's Campaign of 1968 has long been overshadowed by the assassination of its architect, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the political turmoil of that year. In a major reinterpretation of civil rights and Chicano movement history, Gordon K. Mantler demonstrates how King's unfinished crusade became the era's most high-profile attempt at multiracial collaboration and sheds light on the interdependent relationship between racial identity and political coalition among African Americans and Mexican Americans.
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