Voice of Deliverance: Language of Martin Luther King, Jr.and Its Sources

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Martin Luther King Jr's words defined, mobilized and embodied much of the American civil rights movement, crystallizing the hope and demand for racial justice in America. His powerful sermons and speeches were unique in their ability to unite blacks and whites in the quest for reform. Yet, disclosures about King's unattributed appropriations in his PhD dissertation have raised the broader question of whether King's persuasive voice was truly his own. In this study of the language of King, Keith D. Miller explores his words to find the intellectual roots, spiritual resonances and actual sources of those speeches and essays that continue to reverberate in America's mind and conscience. Miller argues that his skilful borrowing and blending of the black oral and white written traditions was in fact the key to his language and to his effectiveness. It made his message of hope and deliverance accessible to all people and enabled blacks and whites to move in harmony to action and commitment.