Front Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreward

Frye Gaillard

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pp. ix-xiv

As I began reading the pages that follow—Lewis V. Baldwin’s meticulous depiction of a fully human Martin Luther King, Jr.—I found myself remembering the moment when I first saw Dr. King in person. It was April 12, 1963, Good Friday morning, and two white policemen were shoving him along a Birmingham sidewalk. They came within three feet of where I was standing, a white teenager on a high school field trip, only dimly aware...

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Foreword

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pp. xv-xvi

Much of the inspiration to complete this book came through a very memorable experience I had back in early 2003, after being invited to give lectures on Martin Luther King, Jr. at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, an all-black congregation led by my friend and former seminary classmate, the Reverend Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood. I had talked about King, Jr. for almost an hour, highlighting his greatness and many...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xxii

I initially felt that writing a book about the “humanness” of Martin Luther King, Jr., or the King behind the public persona, would be an audacious, and perhaps even a risky, undertaking because of the ever-present potential for distorted characterizations. Fortunately, I was surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues who thought otherwise, and my decision to bring this book to completion is, in some measure, a testimony to their kind and generous...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-16

I have been writing about Martin Luther King, Jr. for more than three decades, focusing primarily on his roots in, and indebtedness to, black cultural and church traditions.1 Having heard King, Jr. speak at a voting rights rally at the Antioch Baptist Church in my hometown of Camden, Alabama, the heart of the black belt, in early 1966, when I was only a junior in high school,2 I have felt, at times, that my emergence as a King scholar is somehow...

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1. “A Regular Fella”: The Boy Named M. L. King, Jr.

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pp. 17-60

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and adventures as a child have seldom been taken seriously in works about him. It is too often forgotten that King, Jr. was an ordinary boy before he became a great man. In the rare cases in which his childhood has been seriously considered, it is used primarily to further highlight what Frederick L. Downing calls his “mythic and heroic trajectory.”3 Consequently, we get embellished portrayals of the gifted child who grew...

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2. “The Measure of a Man”: Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?

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pp. 61-116

In one version of his celebrated sermon, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” delivered at a church in Pasadena, California in February 1960,3 Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded his listeners that “in the final analysis, everything that you see in this universe is a shadow cast by that which you do not see.” King, Jr. went on to illustrate the point in these terms: “You don’t see Martin Luther King; you see my body. You can never see my...

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3. “Let Us Break Bread Together”: Martin Luther King, Jr., Southern Cooking, and the Socio-Cultural Significance of Food and Eating

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pp. 117-156

Martin Luther King, Jr. was steeped in the values and traditions of what has been called “a food-conscious culture,” or a culture known for its long, rich, and varied food history.3 Southern cooking, food, and eating figured prominently in the narrative whole of his life, and these essentials provide yet another angle from which to examine his basic “humanness.” King, Jr.’s entire life unfolded in a social climate and culture in which the principal...

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4. “Let Our Rejoicing Rise”: Music as a Central, Living Element in the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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pp. 157-222

Music was an integral part of the life story of Martin Luther King, Jr.—from the time of his birth to the moment of his tragic and untimely death. He grew up in a society and culture in which the opportunities for exposure to great music were endless, and in which music-making was essentially a communal exercise. As a child, he delighted in “the brassy sounds of marching bands and the sight of the high-stepping majorettes.”3 There were...

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5. “His Child’s Heart”: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s World of Play and Sports

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pp. 223-258

A genuine and abiding love for fun remained one of the greatest and most attractive qualities of Martin Luther King, Jr. He affirmed, enjoyed, and celebrated life not only through food, eating, sex, and music, but also through the phenomenon of play. Play is most often associated with children and childlike activities, but King, Jr. evidently understood that play could be a positive, meaningful, and enlightening experience for adults...

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6. “To Joy and Mirth”: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Gift of Folk Wit, Humor, and Laughter

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pp. 259-320

It has often been said that “Religious people tend to be hypercritical and lack a sense of humor.”3 This was not the case with Martin Luther King, Jr., who had a boyish zeal for fun and laughter, who personified playfulness as a sense of humor, and who found folk wit and humor in the day-to-day processes of living, especially as he observed and interacted with his people.4 Humor for King, Jr. was never an inappropriate subject for religious...

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7. “A Good Man, But Not a God”

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pp. 321-324

Martin Luther King, Jr. is revered, canonized, and even cast in a messianic light in terms of his public legacy, and unfortunately, his basic and vivid “humanness” has gotten lost in the process.3 His biography functions in American history as more than simply the story of an individual life, and our annual celebrations of him have assumed ritualistic significance. The mythological status bestowed upon King, Jr. is highlighted by the tendency...

Bibliography

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pp. 325-344

Sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

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pp. 345-346

Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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pp. 347-348

Index of Names

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pp. 349-357

Back Cover

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