Title

Change Must Come: Exploring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through Kierkegaard

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Campus where you would like to present

Ellensburg

Event Website

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source

Start Date

18-5-2020

Abstract

This paper seeks to investigate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a character who fits within Søren Kierkegaard’s schema of a “knight of faith”. The knight of faith is characterized by their ineffability in regards of a social morality, for they act on incommunicable faith. King exemplifies this knighthood by way of defying the social morality of 1950s and 1960s America. He does this by being a prominent black leader in the Civil Rights Movement and by asserting his “dream”, a faith for racial integration and positive racial socialization in the future. In the context of the Civil Rights Era, a time where the universal was associated with white identity, segregation, and black depreciation, King defies those associations by affirming black identity and battling segregation. This defiance, the faith in his dream, is something the universal of the time cannot understand, therefore King is in opposition as a knight of faith. Interestingly, King also exerts a new universal upon this universal, where Kierkegaard’s original imagining of the knight was to always lie outside of the universal, let alone act upon it and change it dramatically. This paper is not completely exhaustive; there is more to be said on this topic.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Lily Vuong

Department/Program

Philosophy and Religious Studies

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May 18th, 12:00 PM

Change Must Come: Exploring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through Kierkegaard

Ellensburg

This paper seeks to investigate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a character who fits within Søren Kierkegaard’s schema of a “knight of faith”. The knight of faith is characterized by their ineffability in regards of a social morality, for they act on incommunicable faith. King exemplifies this knighthood by way of defying the social morality of 1950s and 1960s America. He does this by being a prominent black leader in the Civil Rights Movement and by asserting his “dream”, a faith for racial integration and positive racial socialization in the future. In the context of the Civil Rights Era, a time where the universal was associated with white identity, segregation, and black depreciation, King defies those associations by affirming black identity and battling segregation. This defiance, the faith in his dream, is something the universal of the time cannot understand, therefore King is in opposition as a knight of faith. Interestingly, King also exerts a new universal upon this universal, where Kierkegaard’s original imagining of the knight was to always lie outside of the universal, let alone act upon it and change it dramatically. This paper is not completely exhaustive; there is more to be said on this topic.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2020/CAH/26