Last summer I happened upon a neat find in a used book store. I found an original edition of Martin Luther King’s posthumously published book The Trumpet of Conscience (New York: Harper & Row, 1968) – a compilation of five lectures King gave over the Canadian Broadcasting System (CBC) during November and December of 1967, just five months before his assassination (or execution) in Memphis. The CBC had invited King to talk about anything he considered relevant not only in the U.S. but around the world.
The Trumpet of Conscience does not jibe well with the conventional domesticated and whitewashed image of King that is purveyed across the nation ever year during and around the national holiday the bears his name. That image portrays King as a moderate reformer who wanted little more than a few basic civil rights adjustments in a mostly benevolent American System – a loyal supplicant who was tearfully grateful to the nation’s leaders for finally making those adjustments.