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The Haftarah Reading That Inspired Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every January, Americans observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rather than celebrating a broader Civil Rights Movement Day, we prefer to tell the story of a singular hero who represented and led the struggle for justice and equality, giving his life for it long before his work was done. And Kingin spite of his well-documented personal flawsgave us exactly the story we need. This story speaks not only to the reverend's fellow Christians, but to Jews as well.

In calling for black people to be included in American society, King grounded his demands in the nation's most sacred texts: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bible. King's approach thus set him in dialogue with the other received American traditions, Christian and Jewish alike, that accompany these texts. In 1963, King led the historic March on Washington and delivered the rousing "I Have a Dream" speech by which we best remember him. He famously referred to the nation's founding documents and the Emancipation Proclamation and also quoted this bit from Isaiah 40:

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Author:Kopel, Charles
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Date:Jan 13, 2014
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