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A More Perfect UnionHolistic Worldviews and the Transformation of American Culture after World War II$
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Linda Sargent Wood

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377743

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377743.001.0001

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The Social World

The Social World

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Beloved Community

(p.83) 3 The Social World
A More Perfect Union

Linda Sargent Wood (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of a beloved community made another holistic declaration. “In a real sense all of life is interrelated,” he contended, as he sought to unite race‐divided America. Influenced by the black church, the Social Gospel, and personalism, and living in a time when racism was challenged at home and abroad, when decolonization opened up political opportunities, and economic prosperity created new possibilities, King worked to unite all races and classes and to bring an end to discrimination, poverty, and war. His holism had two pivotal points: affirming the dignity of the individual and caring for the collective well‐being. Recognizing our common humanity, he thought, promised healing and a worldwide “brotherhood” that was more than a sum of its parts or a negation of the customs of segregation. His notion of an organic society knit together in agape love helped initiate sweeping changes in America's political and social fabric. Boycotts, marches, and speeches led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Seeing King as a holist, as a crusader for unity in a divided world, sheds new light on his place and power.

Keywords:   Martin Luther King Jr, civil rights movement, beloved community, integration, black church, social gospel, personalism, racism, poverty, agape love

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