Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr - Reverend

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. was both on January 15, 1929, and this year his federal holiday falls on January 17. I think most schools talk about King; many cities have streets named for him, and we hear about him on television often, especially around this time of the year.

I have been casually observing the manner of addressing King within the media. He held a doctoral degree and a divinity degree. In manuals of style, the correct form of address for such a person would be "The Reverend Doctor..." However, the common form I hear is "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." His widow has declared that King was most proud of the title Reverend.

But in news stories he is not addressed the way he would have preferred. I found the following numbers when I did a search on Google for these various forms of his name, searching only in the "News" category:

"Dr. Martin Luther King" - 3,060 results
"Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King" - 2 results
"Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King" -  25 results
"Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King" - 279 results

It is almost certain appropriate to remember that "Reverend" should be attached to his name. In his public work he was outspoken about religious roots of his beliefs and teaching. Consider a famous event in his life, which his front porch was bombed while his family was at home. King rushed into the home to learn their fate and found them safe. There was a very angry mom of King supporters in his front yard, many with weapons. Reporters on the scene were being blocked from departing and had reason to fear for their safety.

King walked onto the porch and said, in part:

"Don’t get your weapons. If you have weapons, take them home. He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword. Remember that is what Jesus said. We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.’”

When the crowd of several hundred was silent, he continued, “I did not start this boycott. I was asked by you to serve as your spokesman. I want it to be known the length and breadth of this land that if I am stopped, this movement will not stop. If I am stopped, our work will not stop. For what we are doing is right. What we are doing is just. And God is with us.”

(As presented on Rhapsody of Books)

So this year, let's remember that he was not JUST Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

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