Journal of Religious Ethics 18 (2):79-105 (1990)

Abstract
This essay focuses on one aspect of the social thought of Martin Luther King, Jr.: his social ethics. Specifically, it poses the question whether, in what sense, and from what time it is correct to consider King a democratic socialist. The essay argues that King was in fact a democratic socialist and, contrary to the implications of some recent interpreters who have focused on transformation and radicalization in King's thought, that King's democratic socialism was rooted in his formative experience of the black religious tradition and was manifested from his student days at Crozer Theological Seminary forward. The change that may be discerned in King's later years was only a refinement, not a transformation, of his basic orientation
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