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caption: Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his seminal "I Have a Dream" speech.
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Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his seminal "I Have a Dream" speech.
Credit: Public Domain

Martin Luther King, Jr's 'Martyrdom Has Marred His Message'

Americans honor the memory of Reverend Martin Luther King with street, school and place names, a national holiday, and a national monument.

Tavis Smiley appreciates that, but he also knows that many, if not most, Americans can’t quote more than King’s most famous line from his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Smiley explores the more nightmarish aspects of King’s last year of life in his new book,Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year.” It’s a sobering look at how King’s efforts to push against cultural limits made him a pariah in the last year of his life.

Smiley argues King’s “martyrdom has marred his message.”

KUOW listeners will be familiar with Tavis Smiley’s work as a broadcaster, author and advocate for justice, equal rights and anti-poverty measures.

Seattle Town Hall and Elliott Bay Book Company presented this talk byTavis Smiley on September 30 as part of their Civics series. The series is supported by The Boeing Company, the RealNetworks Foundation, and the True-Brown Foundation. Series media sponsorship is provided by The Stranger and KUOW.

Thanks to Anna Tatistcheff for this recording.