Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr by Lei Yixin on the Mall in Washington D.C.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929, is among the world’s most influential and memorable civil rights leaders. The young, respected theologian and pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association in late 1955, which ran the bus boycott following Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of a segregated bus earlier that year. King proved to be a charismatic and eloquent leader and soon moved to the forefront of the larger movement to end legal and social discrimination and segregation in the American South. His philosophy of nonviolent direct action, heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, resonated widely and still does. It’s consistent with key religious sentiments and principles found in King’s and the majority of Americans’ Christianity, as well as other philosophical and religious systems which emphasize both justice and mercy. The nonviolent tactics that King endorsed also kept the movement on such a moral high ground that it stymied would-be white critics who found it necessary to resort to smear campaigns and ad-hominem attacks, including and especially J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI administration. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and his ‘Letter From a Birmingham Jail’ are two of the most moving and most influential creations of the American modern Civil Rights Movement, or indeed of any civil rights movement.

King was cut down by an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968, outside of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was engaged in worker’s rights activism, another major cause to which he dedicated his life.

Learn more about the complex, flawed, and great Dr. King at:

About Dr. King ~ at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Envisioning Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Twenty-First Century ~ by Dr. Elwood Watson for Black Perspectives, blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

I Have A Dream ~ speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968) ~ by Clayborne Carson for BlackPast.org

Martin Luther King ~ by the BBC

Martin Luther King, Jr. ~ by David L. Lewis and Clayborne Carson for Encyclopædia Britannica

Martin Luther King and Union Rights ~ by Michael Honey for Clarion, newspaper of PSC/Cuny

Martin Luther King, Jr: An Extraordinary Life ~ a project by The Seattle Times

Martin Luther King Jr.: Leader of Millions in Nonviolent Drive for Racial Justice ~ obituary by Murray Schumach for The New York Times

A Reading of the Letter from Birmingham Jail ~ by Martin Luther King, Jr, read and recorded by The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and project participants

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O.P. Recommends: If Philosophy Won’t Diversify… A Critique of Philosophy’s Lack of Diversity

School of Athens by Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (cropped)

‘Old dead white guys’ – yes, we should study their great contributions to human thought, but what about the rest of the world’s great thinkers?

In this New York Times op-ed for the Stone (NYT’s philosophy forum), Jay L. Garfield and Bryan W. Van Norden critique philosophy’s lack of diversity, and point out the serious problems with calling an academic philosophy department simply a ‘Philosophy’ department while focusing almost exclusively on European and American philosophy.

Their point? If academic philosophy departments want to imply that their students will receive a thorough education in philosophy department by using the broad term ‘philosophy’, then the education they offer should likewise be broad. If not, then they need to be up front and call it what it is: ‘European and American Philosophy’ (…’with a smattering of Islamic Philosophy’: in my undergraduate philosophy courses, Eurocentric as they were, we inevitably received some, if severely limited, instruction in Islamic philosophy, given its strong influence on medieval European thought).

I, for one, look forward to the diversification of philosophy departments. It’s not only desirable but necessary, if philosophy is going to remain the relevant and dynamic pursuit it could and should be.

If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is‘, by  Jay L. Garfield and Bryan W. Van Norden. New York Times: The Stone, May 11, 2016

Ordinary Philosophy and its Traveling Philosophy / History of Ideas series is a labor of love and ad-free, entirely supported by patrons and readers like you. Please offer your support today!