- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Free Pr; First Edition edition (January 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0029215218
- ISBN-13: 978-0029215210
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #688,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Its Sources Hardcover – January, 1992
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From Library Journal
Miller (English, Arizona State) has written a complex, convincing analysis of the sources of King's major sermons and public works. In brief, Miller argues that King borrowed ideas, patterns, words, even whole paragraphs from two main sources: white Protestant ministers' radio sermons and the traditions of the African American folk pulpit. King melded these "borrowings" into consistently powerful sermons for social change. To Miller, this was not plagiarism, but perfectly consistent with the American homiletic tradition. King's ability to reshape old works was his greatest rhetorical strength. Miller's study provides a fascinating counterpoint to recent attacks on King's originality. It is highly recommended for all major libraries.
- A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, Ind.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Significantly extends and enriches our understanding of the real roots of Martin Luther King Jr.'s eloquence and the centrality of the church in King's life.(David Garrow)
Miller's discoveries amount to a major reevaluation of our current understanding of King as a thinker and leader.(New York Newsday)
This well-researched book . . . achieve[s] a groundbreaking understanding of King's ability to motivate Americans to achieve social change.(Washington Post Book World) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Author Keith Miller shows how much of King's material, language imagery and content is derived from two sources -the oral traditions of the African-American folk church which this inspirational speaker heard from his father and associates as he grew up, but also the printed sermons of white Protestant preachers.
In thoroughly researched material, Miller shows how King uses other voices and verbatim imagery in his public speeches and essays. In today's climate, King might be accused of plagiarism. The motivational imagery and inspirational words of possibly the finest speaker of the twentieth century were often not his own.
Miller writes persuasively though that the African-American culture was one of oral storytelling rather than written. Thus well received religious stories and anecdotes were constantly reprocessed by speakers. None of King's colleagues upbraided this inspirational speaker for `stealing' their material.
In A Call to Conscience, Rosa Parks write that Dr. King would spend fifteen hours preparing a speech. While not disagreeing with this notion, Miller does suggest that a significant number of King's speeches were ghost written. I was surprised to read that King's anti-Vietnam war speech "A Time to Break Silence" was written primarily by Vincent Harding with contributions from Andrew Young. Given the immense detail and historical perspective in the Vietnam speech, a style different to the broad brush imagery which Dr. King normally used so effectively, it is a credible contention.
Even one of King's finest pieces Letter from Birmingham Jail owes much to other sources. In his autobiography, King states he wrote the letter without notes or support material. However, he was able to draw on his prodigious bank of memorized material to craft a powerful indictment of white churches. Miller shows how King drew on passages from a sermon by H.H. Crane and Harry Emerson Fosdick's Hope of the World.
In some ways, Miller's work takes some of the luster from the King legend. Ultimately though, King used the tools of his time, tools that were accepted by his peers and those from whom he borrowed. King was a very human person who by utilizing his skills created god like speeches that inspired millions.
As a keynote speaker myself, it is indeed interesting to appreciate that even a truly great inspirational and motivational speaker does not always create his or her own material.
Miller also shows how the courageous resistance of African Americans against centuries of slavery produced a profound gospel of deliverance that was a concentrated version of Judeo-Christian doctrines, pared to its essentials and vivid enough to sustain people through seemingly hopeless injustice and oppression, indeed, with the power to motivate people to lay down their lives, if necessary. It was this doctrine of deliverance that King delivered to America and the world, electrifying the consciences and imaginations of white Americans, and providing leadership of the highest quality to the many brave African Americans who were determined to end the injustice of racism in America.
This is a fine and inspiring book about a great American, Dr. M. L. King, Jr.