by Peter C. Myers
The Heritage Foundation
March 31, 2014
Martin Luther King, Jr., was a champion of great principles, laboring mightily and in the end sacrificing his life to advance the cause of equal rights for all. At the level of first principles—in his commitments to natural rights, democratic government, and the irrelevance of race to moral personhood and just social deserts—King’s political thought might properly claim a consensus among virtually all American citizens. But with respect to the relation between those first principles and the programmatic means for effecting them, his thought leaves much ground for legitimate dispute. A careful analysis of King’s political teaching shows that these two elements of his thinking are in tension with one another and thereby account for the persistent divisions over how to understand his legacy.



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