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Mighty Streams: What King's Intellectual and Political Influences Have to Teach Us Today

A Lecture by Elliot Ratzman

Elliot Ratzman: Mighty Streams: What King's Intellectual and Political Influences Have to Teach Us Today

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Elliot Ratzman, visiting professor in the Department of Religion, gave the keynote address at the 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day luncheon. According to Ratzman, King the activist was informed by King the scholar. The speeches, sermons, and strategies of the Civil Rights Movement were in large part shaped by the vibrant ideas King wrestled with during his education at Morehouse College, Crozier Seminary, and Boston University. The books he read and the scholar-activists he was inspired by shed a different light on King's works and legacy. Those thinkers on King's bookshelf were also themselves activists for justice, peace, and equality. As we continue to celebrate King's life and rededicate our own commitments to justice, listen to Ratzman's lecture to hear what these "mighty streams" have to teach us for our own struggles.

Ratzman teaches courses in the modern philosophical, political, and ethical dimensions of religious traditions. Since college, Ratzman has been involved with movements for economic justice, Middle East peace, and human rights. He is finishing a memoir on academics and activism in Israel called After Zion and is writing a monograph about the genre known as “immersion journalism” where journalists experiment with living for a time as “the Other” as in the classic Black Like Me and Nickel and Dimed. Ratzman's course, "Religious Radicals: The Theological-Political Martin Luther King Jr." is the basis for a book project on King's intellectual influences. Contact him at

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