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The Preacher KingMartin Luther King Jr. and the Word that Moved America$
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Richard Lischer

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195111323

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195111323.001.0001

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The Masks of Character

The Masks of Character

(p.163) 7 The Masks of Character
The Preacher King

Richard Lischer

Oxford University Press

In a 1961 article of the New York Times Magazine, Ved Mehta wrote that Gandhi and Martin Luther King shared a particular dramatist genius. Both led demonstrations as if they were theatrical performances, and they were remembered as “imaginative artists who knew how to use politics as their stage.” David Halberstam characterized the Civil Rights Movement as “a great televised morality play, white hats and black hats…” Mehta's and Halberstam's comments are a reminder that Martin Luther King was, in the strictest positive sense of the word, an actor. He perfected his talent in the black church, where he learned how to perform according to the public's expectations.

Keywords:   New York Times Magazine, Ved Mehta, David Halberstam, Civil Rights Movement, actor, Gandhi

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