Thursday, November 19, 2015

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Parables (part 5)

The Society of Biblical Literature annual conference is beginning in Atlanta, which means it is just a MARTA ride away for me this year. I look forward to the sessions, book hall, other meetings, and seeing friends and colleagues. I start off tonight with a dinner meeting.

So a short post today and perhaps a few other short ones over the next few days about Dr. King and the parables. Much of the content of the posts will not make it into the book, because of word count issues. Here goes:

Dr. King is most often memorialized by images and videos of his famous “I have a Dream” speech, which contributes to the process of “collective amnesia” that sanitizes essential elements of his message about social justice (Yanco 2014: xi). King, who during his life was by many as a dangerous radical is now remembered in popular culture as the head of the Civil Rights movement and a forceful spokesperson for nonviolence. King, however, not only helped lead a nonviolent movement against racism and for equality, but he also actively fought against materialism, militarism, and economic exploitation and for social and economic justice.  Few remember that King called for such things as a guaranteed annual income, which meant that the United States would guarantee a minimum amount of money be paid to every citizen of the United States so that all people could afford decent housing, food, health care, and education (a form of this idea was later proposed by President Richard Nixon in 1969 in his “Family Assistance Plan”; cf. Yanco 2014: 37).

As his sermons about the parables illustrate, King believed that racial and economic injustices would never be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power, and he prophetically denounced the evils of capitalism and militarism just as he denounced the evils of racism.

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