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  • Dream and Legacy: Dr. Martin Luther King in the Post-Civil Rights Era ed. by Michael L. Clemons, Donathan L. Brown, and William H. L. Dorsey
  • Tasneem Siddiqui
Dream and Legacy: Dr. Martin Luther King in the Post-Civil Rights Era. Edited by Michael L. Clemons, Donathan L. Brown, and William H. L. Dorsey. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2017. Pp. viii, 221. $65.00, ISBN 978-1-4968-1184-4.) 2018

The prescient release of Dream and Legacy: Dr. Martin Luther King in the Post-Civil Rights Era, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is extremely important in the current historical moment. Dr. King the radical, the anti-imperialist, the antiracist, and the anticapitalist is a King that desperately needs closer study in contemporary U.S. society. As the legacy of King's praxis is reinvigorated through a revival of the Poor People's Campaign, organizers, intellectuals, policy makers, spiritual advisers, and everyday people are reengaging the map, the blueprint of the dialectic of struggle that their ancestors laid out for them. To be sure, if King were alive today, he would be at the forefront of the issues of racial justice, the war against and criminalization of the poor, environmental justice, sanctuary cities, reproductive justice, sexual violence, prison abolition, and antiwar movements. King understood that the multi-issue experience of people's lives, the quotidian acts of state violence they confront, and the social problems they navigate have deep historical roots that are intertwined.

To map the shifts and transformations of King's revolutionary thought and praxis, as James L. Taylor reminds in his chapter, each iteration, each stage of growth and expansion for King, must be understood as "intensely different" and as a result of King's radical participation in black social movements (p. 154). [End Page 227] King transformed, evolved his praxis, and sharpened his modalities of analysis and resistance through this process of struggle. Editors Michael L. Clemons, Donathan L. Brown, and William H. L. Dorsey attend to King's trajectory in this "diverse and unique collection of multidisciplinary works by scholars from around the country that focus on contemporary social policy and issue areas in American society," applying the legacy and radical sociopolitical thought of King (p. 6).

Dream and Legacy is organized in three parts covering politics and public policy, foreign affairs and Africa, and social developments. Part 1 focuses on voter suppression through the implementation of voter identification laws; criminality and social justice; affirmative action policies and the dearth of faculty of color in the academy; and health, health-care disparities, and access issues as policies that adversely affect African-descended communities in the United States. Part 2 addresses the potentialities of applying the internationalism of King's sociopolitical thought and practice to issues of foreign policy through developing a framework of "foreign policy justice" (p. 83). The second portion of Part 2 considers how King might have approached the limitations and challenges of foreign policy as it adversely affects Africa, paying particular attention to the historical legacies of black and Third World solidarity during decolonization and black liberation movements from the 1940s to the late twentieth century.

King is the most known and yet the least understood radical political figure. Part 3 attempts to further parse a deeper understanding of King the revolutionary by examining the contemporary relevance of his sociopolitical thought in developing critiques of racism, voter suppression, economic violence, and cultural production and resistance while conceptualizing a critical consciousness to rights-bearing discourse. The chapters in this collective work emphasize King's trenchant critique of the governing logics of the United States as a modern Western racial capitalist settler colonial society and the ways it organizes to "legitimize and promote violence and war" (p. 202). King drew attention to the ways American institutions are maintained through this logic of (policy) violence. This dialectical relationship is expressed through the contemporary conditions of "ecological peril"; the condition of the global poor and the siphoning of global wealth and resources into the hands of a few; the expansion of paramilitary violence wielded by an ever-increasing militarized police; perpetual global warfare; the...


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pp. 227-229
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