Reading Matters

Jason Miller excavates MLK’s ‘Dream’

Professor Jason Miller of North Carolina State University is stopping at Charlotte’s Park Road Books as part of a 14-city book tour to promote the paperback edition of his “Origins of the Dream: Hughes’s Poetry and King’s Rhetoric.”

According to Miller’s editor at the University Press of Florida, scholars had long wondered if King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was connected to Lanston Hughes’s poetry. In “Origins of the Dream,” Miller “lifts that veil to demonstrate how Hughes’s revolutionary poetry became a measurable inflection in KIng’s voice.”

Miller unearthed a tape of King’s first “Dream” speech in Rocky Mount in 2001.

From that tape, Miller came to believe that King “negotiated a political climate that sought to silence the poet’s subversive voice.” By using allusion rather than quotation, he says King avoided intensifying the threats and accusations against him, while allowing the nation to unconsciously embrace the incendiary ideas behind Hughes’s poetry.

Miller will talk from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday at Park Road Books, Park Road Shopping Center, 4139 Park Road. The event is free and you’re invited.

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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