From the Instructor

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy have resurfaced as the paradigm of social change, as evidenced by the recent “Occupy Movement” and the Arab Spring of 2011. The essence of King’s morality and social ethics can be understood through a critical examination of his sermons, speeches, and writings. Accordingly, the writing seminar, which created the occasion for Zoe Strassfield’s essay, focused on Dr. King’s ethics of hope and love along with his evolving critical thinking on civil disobedience, non-violence, social policy, and the struggle for integration.

In her exciting essay, “A Day of Sputniks and Explorers: Martin Luther King on Science and Technology,” Zoe captures the essence of Dr. King’s philosophy and its relevance for contemporary society in her unique topic, which raises the question, “How did King view the scientific progress of his time period?”

Through a creative exploration of King’s writings, Ms. Strassfield reveals King’s relationship to science on many levels. She makes many claims, but she validates them with solid evidence and consistent documentation of sources. Specifically, and to her credit, Strassfield handles multiple sources—demonstrating her ability to gauge the authority and reliability of sources and making critical choices among the materials at her disposal—manages structure and organization of a “longer” essay, and practices acknowledgement and response.

In particular, Strassfield not only identifies Dr. King’s essential disavowal of any perceived “conflict between science and religion,” as evidenced in his early academic writings, but also recognizes a deliberate intersection of science in King’s later professional essays and speeches on civil disobedience, nonviolence, and societal reform. The heart of Strassfield’s discussion necessarily focuses on the moral and ethical components of King’s philosophy associated with the human use of science and technology. Accordingly, she maintains the relevance of King’s ethic of love, moral stance on nonviolence, and hope for societal unity—sisterhood and brotherhood—toward the creation of a more humane and just society for all.

— MIKEL SATCHER

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