Omid Safi
Spring 2020

Perhaps more than any other figure in 20th century America, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is usually presented as an iconic solitary figure who floats above history and represents the fulfillment of the American “Dream.”This course charts a different path, insisting that King has to be read as a situated historical figure who must be engaged within multiple contexts of the segregated American South, a decades long struggle against racism, and also a global discourse of anti-colonialism.The emphasis will be on Dr. King as one key component of a wider black liberationist tradition.The course will consist of a unit in which we will examine the *movement* that produced Dr. King and Dr. King in turn contributed to. We will examine the significant writings and events in Dr. King’s life, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the March on Washington, Riverside Church, and Poor People’s Campaign. In the second section, we will examine movements that trace themselves to Dr. King’s legacy, including Rev. Barber and Cornel West today.In the third section we will look at parallel (and at times competing black liberationist traditions of Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and other figures.