Cover

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Title

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Copyright

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Dedication

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-x

This book reflects the valuable suggestions and recommendations of many scholars and readers. Dr. Gerald Smith’s knowledge of the field helped me clearly define the scope of the work. Dr. Smith also provided detailed feedback on the entire manuscript at several points during the writing process. Many other professors from the University of Kentucky provided ...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xx

What if Martin Luther King Jr. had never accepted the call to preach at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery? Would he have be-come a famed civil rights leader? Would the bus boycott movement have succeeded? How was the subsequent course of American history altered by the contingencies that brought together King and the Montgomery ...

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Prologue

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pp. 1-7

Every year in elementary school classrooms throughout the United States, teachers share heroic stories that took place in Montgomery, Alabama, during the 1950s. Young children learn about the arrest of Rosa Parks, the boycott of Montgomery city buses, and the emergence of a young Baptist...

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1 “The Stirring of the Water”

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pp. 9-34

Racially integrated events rarely occurred in Montgomery, but for several years both whites and blacks gathered together at the city’s spacious Cramton Bowl for an Easter sunrise celebration. Segregated seating applied at the municipal arena, but the all-white planning committee worked to include African American preachers in the program as they developed the service. ...

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2 “The Gospel I Will Preach”

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pp. 35-51

Before Martin Luther King Jr. celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday, he had already devoted several years to preparing for the pastorate. Although he was the son and grandson of black Baptist preachers, he was not interested in simply following in their footsteps. King was unwilling to pastor in a tradition that, as he saw it, had all too often valued the heart above the head, ...

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3 “Making a Contribution”

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pp. 53-84

As 1954 dawned, Martin Luther King Jr. was aggressively pursuing various job opportunities. He had just completed his coursework and examination requirements for his doctorate at Boston University and hoped to find a teaching or pastoral position to support both himself and his wife while finishing his dissertation. Although tempted by academic opportunities,...

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4 “They Are Willing to Walk”

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pp. 85-114

Rosa Parks would not be moved. It was Thursday afternoon, and she had just completed a long day’s work as a seamstress in a downtown department store. When she boarded the bus, Parks located a seat in the first row of the African American section, only to be ordered to move a few minutes later to accommodate a boarding white passenger. As Parks continued to sit, ...

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5 “Living under the Tension”

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pp. 115-146

Just a few short days after the bombing of his home, King delivered a sermon at Dexter with a title he could easily embrace: “It’s Hard to Be a Christian.” The past two months of King’s life had been extremely challenging. As the most visible face of the bus boycott, he had become a lightning rod for criticism, threats, and even violence. Despite his sufferings, King...

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6 “Bigger Than Montgomery”

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pp. 147-180

In February 1957, King appeared on the cover of Time magazine in a story chronicling the successful conclusion of the Montgomery bus boycott. This honor reflected an unintended outcome of the local protest: King became the face for the national struggle for civil rights. He was now one of the most sought-after African American preachers in the nation, having ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 181-185

On February 1, 1960, hours before King delivered his final address as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, four young African American college students staged a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Over the following weeks, hundreds of college students staged similar protests in cities throughout the ...

Notes

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pp. 187-227

Bibliography

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pp. 229-239

Index

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pp. 241-248