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xi preface In the biblical story of the burning bush, when he realizes that he is on holy ground, Moses hides his face out of a sense of awe and of his own smallness in relation to God. In the writing of this book, as I have listened to the voices of the civil rights movement, I have often felt that sense of awe. I am struck by how small my own efforts to write about those years are when compared to the profound courage and sacrifice of those who lived them. I believe that our society is still far from the Promised Land of racial justice that Martin Luther King invited us all to imagine. Yet when I consider what those women and men did between 1955 and 1963, and how they did it, and against what odds, I find myself on holy ground. I have written this book out of a conviction that a crucial part of studying social movements involves examining the processes through which people become caught up together in a feeling that they share common identity and purpose—and attending to the stories that are at the heart of that process. My hope is that this book makes a contribution to that enterprise. But I also hope that it contributes to our understanding of this particular movement. If racial healing is ever to come to our society, it will mean remembering and retelling our story of racial injustice and honoring the voices and the actions of those who stood against it. That has been the richest gain of this project for me, to stand in awe of the courage of those protesters and to find myself caught up in the optimism of Dr. King’s vision of the beloved community. I wish to say thank you to a number of people who, in one way or another, helped this project come to fruition: my teachers, David Roberts and Raymond Muncy, who inspired my love for history, and Robert Gaines, who guided my immersion in rhetoric; my students at George Washington University and Pepperdine University, who graciously listened to my almost daily references to “Martin Luther King and the Exodus narrative”; my colleagues at both institutions and especially my GW mentor Clay Warren, for their constant encouragement ; my friends at the Columbia Church of Christ, who nurtured my “other life” in academia; Maggie Earles, for her helpful comments on the earliest draft of this material; the office of the associate provost for research at Pepperdine, for released time from teaching responsibilities , which made this book possible; my reviewers, whose suggestions helped shape the project; Marty Medhurst and the folks at Baylor University Press, for being excited about my work; and finally, my wife, Tammy, and my sons, Joel and Tyler, for faithfully giving me support and good cheer along the way. xii preface ...


Subject Headings

  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968 -- Language.
  • Exodus, The -- Sermons.
  • Exodus, The.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
  • Civil rights movements -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • King, Martin Luther, -- Jr., 1929-1968 -- Oratory.
  • Rhetoric -- Social aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Rhetoric -- Religious aspects -- Christianity -- History -- 20th century.
  • Rhetoric -- Political aspects -- United States -- History -- 20th century
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