JMC Celebrates the Life of Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr on national mall

Martin Luther King Jr. and His Reformation of American Politics


In recognition of today’s federal holiday, the Jack Miller Center celebrates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.  King stands out as a giant in the sweep of American history, and making sense of the character and extent of his legacy is no easy task. On Martin Luther King day this year, we offer several attempts to do just this by some of our fellows. As part of your celebration of Dr. King’s life this holiday, we encourage you to take a look at these three publications and discover anew the dream of this remarkable and important American.

One Dream or Two?: Justice in America and in the Thought of Martin Luther King Jr

Nathan Schlueter

In this 2003 book, JMC fellow Nathan Schlueter expounds in detail Martin Luther King Jr.’s political thought. One Dream or Two? is a critical historical, constitutional, and philosophical examination of Martin Luther King Jr’s understanding of justice―his “Dream”―from within the context of the American political tradition. Nathan Schlueter introduces King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” and then isolates elements of his larger vision for social justice―paying special attention to issues of racial discrimination, political economy, civil disobedience, and the relationship between politics and religion―situating those elements within historical, rhetorical, and political context.

>>Order the book on Amazon.

Nathan Schlueter is a professor of philosophy and religion at Hillsdale College. His research spans a variety of topics, including the libertarian-conservative debate, the thought of Wendell Berry, and family ethics. Professor Schlueter received his BA at Miami University and his PhD from the University of Dallas.


Our Civil Rights Rest on Fundamental Arguments, Not Racial Ones

W.B. Allen

In a 2014 article for the Library of Law and Liberty, JMC fellow W.B. Allen offers a critical examination of King’s role in framing civil rights legislation. He explains King’s understanding of rights and questions whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 presupposes an adequate conception of rights.

>>Read his article on the Law and Library website.

Professor William B. Allen is a professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, and 2008-09 Visiting Senior Scholar in the JMC partner program Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University. He also served previously on the National Council for the Humanities and as Chairman and Member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He was recently the Ann & Herbert W. Vaughan Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program on American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is an expert on liberal arts education, its history, importance and problems. He is also Chairman and co-founder of Toward A Fair Michigan, whose mission was to further understanding of the equal opportunity issues involved in guaranteeing civil rights for all citizens, and to provide a civic forum for a fair and open exchange of views on the question of affirmative action.


Civil Rights, the Civil Rights Act, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peter C. Myers

Peter C. Myers, a JMC fellow, responds to and elaborates on W.B. Allen’s above article in the Library for Law and Liberty. He discusses King’s conception of justice  and the evolution of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 .

>>Read his article on the Law and Liberty Website.

Peter C. Myers is Professor of Political Science, specializing in political philosophy and U.S. constitutional law, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He earned his B.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Loyola University Chicago. His Ph.D. dissertation, “John Locke on the Naturalness of Rights,” received the American Political Science Association’s Leo Strauss Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in the Field of Political Philosophy in 1992.



Are you a JMC fellow? Have you published on Martin Luther King, Jr.? Do you take issue with any of the views expressed here? If so, send us your work to and we will include it here.

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