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Scholars assess King's legacy

April 4, 2008 at 2:52 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, April 4 (UPI) -- Forty years after Martin Luther King's assassination, the United States hasn't realized his dreams and his rougher edges have been smoothed, scholars say.

While most everyone knows the gist of the Baptist minister's inspiring "I have a dream" speech and hundreds of schools and roads are named for the slain civil rights leader, not so many remember his anti-war stance or discuss his militancy on social and economic issues, The Washington Post reported Friday.

It's noteworthy, some scholars say, the same issues are at the forefront today with the Iraq war and the nation hovering near recession, the newspaper reported.

"His challenge was much bigger than being nice," Taylor Branch, author of "America in the King Years," told the Post. "It was even bigger than race. It was whether we take our national purpose seriously, which is the full promise of equal citizenship."

King, 39, was not reticent to speak out against injustice, calling for boycotts against businesses that discriminated, decrying what he called cultural homicide against the black community and denouncing the federal government for promulgating violence worldwide.

"His admonishments to us of how we ought to live seem to be reflected in his social consciousness, and that is rooted in his understanding of Jesus and the social gospels," said Lawrence Carter, dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College, King's alma mater.

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