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Martin Luther King Jr: Who Needs Him?

Professor Tony Badger, Paul Mellon Professor of American History and Master of Clare College, Cambridge

Martin Luther King Memorial Lecture marking the 40th anniversary of the award of an honorary degree by Newcastle University to Dr King

Date: 16th November 2007

Time: 17:30

Venue: Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building, opposite Haymarket Metro

In this lecture, Tony Badger examines the criticisms made of Martin Luther King Jr by both his contemporaries and historians: that he placed too much faith in the good will of northern whites, in the goal of integration, in civil rights rather than economic rights and in the doctrine of non-violence. Badger argues that King's strategy was central to success of African-Americans, an economically and politically powerless minority in the American South, in forcing an entrenched and uncompromising white majority to give up the privileges of white supremacy. He argues that King's radicalism has been obscured by a safe and sanitised image which is celebrated today by white and black Americans in the national holiday which commemorates his birthday.

Tony Badger was educated at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and Hull University From 1971 to 1991 he taught in the History Department at Newcastle University. In 1992 he took up the appointment as Paul Mellon Professor of American History, the post he now holds. In 2003 he was elected Master of Clare College, Cambridge. His research on American History originally focussed on the New Deal on which his publications include Prosperity Road: The New Deal, Tobacco and North Carolina (1980), The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-1940 (1989, new printing 2002) and the forthcoming FDR: The First Hundred Days (2008). Subsequently, he worked on the history of the American South, particularly the way in which white liberal southern politicians handled the race issue after 1945. A selection of his published and unpublished essays on that subject has just come out as New Deal/New South: The Anthony J Badger Reader (2007). He is currently working on a biography of Albert Gore Sr. He has taught undergraduate special subjects on Martin Luther King Jr at Newcastle, Cambridge, and Tulane University, New Orleans.