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Searching for the Promised Land: Examining Dr Martin Luther King's Concept of the Beloved Community

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4 April 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of Dr King's assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. Since his murder we have seen Dr King's message of social justice, the growing threat of militarism, the threat the USA's burgeoning empire posed, and his goal of ending injustice boiled down to a few words spoken in Washington DC when he declared his dream to see his children grow up in a society free of race prejudice. This paper engages with Dr King's work and presents a more geographically sophisticated understanding of King's legacy than the oft repeated Washington speech. Through an analysis of Dr King's concept of the Beloved Community, I argue that Dr King's work stems from the experiences of the Black Atlantic world. Consequently, we should see Dr King's social theory as part of a larger anti-colonial struggle which sought to integrate African American and Western notions of community, which holds contemporary importance as a counterpoint to current neoliberal conceptions of community.
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Keywords: Beloved Community; Black Atlantic; Dr Martin Luther King Jr; community development; neoliberal urban policy; racism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geology and Geography, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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