Vol. 28, No. 3 (Fall
Understanding America: The Martin Luther
Dwight D. Murphey
More than forty years have passed since Martin Luther King,
Jr.'s speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. King
has long-since become enshrined within America's conventional
wisdom as one of the preeminent leaders in the country's history.
To understand America's idealization of King, a number of questions
are worth exploring about this consensus, now that several years
have passed. Is the consensus voluntarily undertaken by the
American public? Is the myth based on an accurate depiction
of the man and his actions? And what does the existence of the
King myth and its powerful hold on American life tell us about
American society and the workings of democracy?