2018-01-12 / Local News

King used a prophetic voice in his preaching

Kenyatta R. Gilbert
Howard University

THE CONVERSATION —The name Martin Luther King Jr. is iconic in the United States. President Barack Obama spoke of King in both his Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance and victory speeches in 2008:

“[King] brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial…to speak of his dream.”

Indeed, much of King’s legacy lives on in such arresting oral performances. They made him a global figure.

King’s preaching used the power of language to interpret the gospel in the context of black misery and Christian hope. He directed people to life-giving resources and spoke provocatively of a present and active divine interventionist who summons preachers to name reality in places where pain, oppression and neglect abound.

In other words, King used a prophetic voice in his preaching – the hopeful voice that begins in prayer and attends to human tragedy. Indeed, the best of African- American preaching is three-dimensional – it is priestly, it is sage, it is prophetic.

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