Monday, January 21, 2008

What we need to learn from MLK today

Below is an excerpt from an Associated Press story by Deepti Hajela:

While there has been scholarly study of King and everything he did, that knowledge hasn't translated into the popular culture perception of him and the civil rights movement, said Richard Greenwald, professor of history at Drew University.

"We're living increasingly in a culture of top 10 lists, of celebrity biopics which simplify the past as entertainment or mythology," he said. "We lose a view on what real leadership is by compressing him down to one window."

That does a disservice to both King and society, said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University.

By freezing him at that point, by putting him on a pedestal of perfection that doesn't acknowledge his complex views, "it makes it impossible both for us to find to new leaders and for us to aspire to leadership," Harris-Lacewell said.

She believes it's important for Americans in 2008 to remember how disliked King was in 1968.

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