The Preacher King
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Word that Moved America
At a turning point in American history, Martin Luther King, Jr., the minister of a small black Baptist church, was able to accomplish the impossible: he transposed the themes of love, suffering, and justice from the sacred shelter of the pulpit into the arena of public policy.
The Preacher King chronicles Martin Luther King, Jr.'s religious development from his childhood as a "preacher's kid" in segregated Atlanta to the most influential American orator of the twentieth-century. Richard Lischer draws almost exclusively on King's unpublished sermons and speeches to give the most accurate portrait possible. Utilizing speeches, recordings, interviews, and even police surveillance reports, Lischer shows the unedited King and reveals his real African-American preaching voice. But King was also profoundly influenced by Gandhi and philosophers like Hegel, Marx, Thoreau, and Freud, and blended both into his compelling vision of brotherhood and and justice which electrified audiences nationwide. Lischer also focuses on the much ignored later phase of King's development wherein he was consumed by prophetic rage, leading him to condemn American religious and political hypocrisy.
In The Preacher King, Lischer has captured the crucial identity of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is a complex human being who, unlike any other preacher in living memory, never gave up trying to shape a congregation of people that would be capable of redeeming the moral and political character of a nation.