Alternative Title

Don't call King a civil rights leader: SMU Maguire Public Scholar Lecture

Publication Date

Spring 4-10-2018


Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—primarily as a domestic “civil rights” leader—is inadequate, and sometimes harmful. The term “civil rights” fails to embrace King’s abolitionist movements toward the global abolition of poverty and war. Moreover, King was a Baptist preacher called by God. He advanced an optimistic realism (including a “realistic pacifism”) that improves upon pessimistic-cynical versions of political realism. And King went beyond advancing “civil rights” to advancing economic justice, economic rights, and human rights. He prescribed adding a social and economic bill of rights to the US Constitution, plus full-employment supplemented by “guaranteed income,” and US-supported international efforts to achieve the total “abolition of poverty” and war throughout “the world house” (King 1967).

Document Type



African American Studies | American Studies | Applied Ethics | Christianity | Comparative Philosophy | Digital Humanities | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Ethics in Religion | History | Intellectual History | Philosophy | Political History | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | United States History