Cover image for Ring out freedom! : the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the making of the civil rights movement
Ring out freedom! : the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the making of the civil rights movement
Sunnemark, Fredrik.
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Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 273 pages ; 23 cm
"There must be somebody to communicate ..." -- A discourse of faith -- Western intellectualism and American ideals -- The problem of race -- Third World, Cold War, and Vietnam -- Radicalization.

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E185.97.K5 S866 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was more than the civil rights movement's most visible figure, he was its voice. This book describes what went into the creation of that voice. It explores how King used words to define a movement. From a place situated between two cultures of American society, King shaped the language that gave the movement its identity and meaning. Fredrik Sunnemark shows how materialistic, idealistic, and religious ways of explaining the world coexisted in King's speeches and writings. He points out the roles of God, Jesus, the church, and "the Beloved Community" in King's rhetoric. Sunnemark examines King's use of allusions, his strategy of employing different meanings of key ideas to speak to different members of his audience, and the way he put into play international ideas and events to achieve certain rhetorical goals. The book concludes with an analysis of King's development after 1965, examining the roots, content, and consequences of his so-called radicalization.

Author Notes

Fredrik Sunnemark is Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at University Trollhättan-Uddevalla, Sweden.

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Sunnemark (cultural studies, Univ. Trollhattan-Uddevalla, Sweden) analyzes King's civil rights legacy through the lens of discourse studies. He argues that King created a specific civil rights discourse using a "ladder of signification" comprising three levels: religious, idealistic, and materialist. At the religious level (top rung), King drew on concepts of God, Jesus, the church, and "the beloved community" to establish the moral authority of the movement and of King as spokesperson for it. At the idealistic level (second rung), King spoke from this moral authority to situate civil rights issues effectively within a variety of ideologies, using allusion, varying conceptions of race, and international contexts to place civil rights issues in an inclusive discourse. Having created this inclusivity, King was able to bring blacks and whites together at the materialistic level (third rung) to construct a shared moral struggle against segregation. Sunnemark suggests that this "ladder of signification" became a less viable civil rights discourse after 1965, when the realities of continuing economic inequalities required King to speak out against the white power structure rather than depict a mutual quest for a moral, just world. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Collections supporting discourse studies and cultural studies, especially the Civil Rights Movement, at graduate and research levels. C. R. Haller York College, CUNY

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: "There Must Be Somebody to Communicate..."p. 1
1. A Discourse of Faithp. 11
2. Western Intellectualism and American Idealsp. 79
3. The Problem of Racep. 123
4. Third World, Cold War, and Vietnamp. 155
5. Radicalizationp. 195
Epiloguep. 233
Notesp. 235
Bibliographyp. 257
Indexp. 265