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A Rave Booklist Review

Eig (Ali, 2017) has a dream that Americans will remember more about our most famous civil

rights icon than one, partially improvised speech. In the most comprehensive MLK biography to

date, enhanced with newly released FBI records and unpublished memoirs, Eig digs deep into

King’s family history, revealing the fortitude and racial trauma experienced by his grandparents

and the indomitable church culture which forged his father. MLK Junior and Senior were devoted

to each other yet clashed over doctrine and morality and disagreed over the role of the church

and of clergy in social justice movements. Eig notes the influence of Morehouse College in

strengthening King’s sense of Black self worth and identity and of colleagues (and rivals) like

Ralph Abernathy in developing King’s own theology of antiracism. Eig insightfully and forthrightly

addresses critiques of King as a plagiarist and his relationships with women before and after his

marriage to Coretta Scott. Most important, Eig refuses to “defang” King, instead pushing

Americans to recognize the radical nature of his demands for justice and his resistance to not

only racism but militarism and capitalism. “Today his words might help us make our way through

these troubled times, but only if we actually read them, only if we embrace the complicated King,

the flawed King, the human King, the radical King.”

— Lesley Williams


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