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How America erased the radicalism of Martin Luther King Jr

Three new books reveal how Martin Luther King Jr has been turned into a monument, obscuring his dangerous and disruptive politics

By Colin Grant   April 2018

Martin Luther King Jr has been sanitised. Photo: © John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

“Why America May Go to Hell” was the title of a sermon that Martin Luther King, Jr expected to deliver at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Sunday 7th April 1968. But he never had the chance: James Earl Ray shot him dead on 4th April.

On hearing the news, black Americans wailed in disbelief and cursed their country. It was impossible to speak, recalled James Baldwin, “without a sense of loss and grief and…

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