To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Edited by Tommie Shelby and Brandon M. Terry. Belknap, $35 (464p) ISBN 978-0-674-98075-4
In this robust and wide-ranging collection, Shelby and Terry assemble essays about King’s legacy as a political philosopher. The book as a whole displays the pliability and dynamism of King’s thought, applying it to circumstances both recent (Barack Obama’s presidency) and far in the past (the practice of slavery in 18th- and 19th-century America). Throughout, King’s voice is placed within a community of philosophers. Robert Gooding-Williams, a Columbia professor of African-American studies, addresses the contrasting viewpoints of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington and illuminates how King created a distinct approach by drawing on both Du Bois’s militant resistance to racial injustice and Washington’s thesis that hatred of the oppressor reduces one’s dignity. Ronald Sundstrom, a professor and former chair of the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco, complicates concepts of color-blindness often ascribed to King, highlighting ways in which he supported “color-conscious remedies.” Coeditor Shelby’s essay demonstrates the continued relevance of King’s conception of economic justice to present-day African-American economic struggles. As the nation approaches the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, this work demonstrates, for anyone who needs convincing, the continued and vital importance of his thinking. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 02/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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