Martin Luther King: Messianic Myth

  • Jonathan Charteris-Black


Martin Luther King was the greatest twentieth-century American political speaker, and is arguably the greatest North American orator whose voice is still known to us. This is because he was able to draw on the rich traditions of slave preachers whose discourse had sustained black people during their time of suffering under slavery. Martin Luther King’s father was a minister in the Baptist church; within this tradition the ability to preach was (and, perhaps, still is) believed to indicate a divine calling. As Ling (2002: 12) explains:

Ultimately, King would also come to see the advantages of a liturgy, which, through communal singing and an emotive, interactive style of preaching, prepared ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The charismatic leader, the revered minister of his flock, could inspire his followers to overcome their fears, to confront wrongdoers, and to demand justice.


Target Domain Source Domain Racial Segregation Conceptual Metaphor Rhetorical Strategy 
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© Jonathan Charteris-Black 2005

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  • Jonathan Charteris-Black

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