PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Boston, MA
November 18-21, 2017

2017 Annual Meeting Program (PDF)

Preliminary 2017 Annual Meeting Program (MS Word)

To return to the Welcome Page, please click here.

For questions or support, email

To return to the AAR website, click here.

Theology of Martin Luther King Jr. Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

The work of this Unit is focused on creating conversations around the unique contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. to the Christian theological tradition in the twentieth century and to the religious, cultural, political, and economic consequences of his work. We are particularly interested in the many facets of the Civil Rights Movement, of which King was a significant part. These explorations have included a focus on the role of women in the movement, the economic dimensions of King’s work, and his use of both the theological traditions and rhetoric of the Black Church. In all of our sessions we are interested in fostering inter- and multidisciplinary approaches to this project.

Call for Papers: 

The City of Boston played an important role in Dr. King’s theological and moral formation; he studied there and received his Ph.D. degree from Boston University. Mindful of this locationality and in response to the conference theme for the 2017 AAR Annual Meeting, “Religion and the Most Vulnerable,” while also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic speech on Vietnam at the Riverside Church in NY, the Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit looks for paper proposals in the following areas:

• King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech was nationally controversial, and marked a turning point in his life. Written primarily by Vincent Harding, this speech caused many people, including his friends and supporters to turn against King, and he was assassinated exactly one year after the speech. In light of his “Beyond Vietnam” speech and other writings, what is King’s theology and ethics for “the most vulnerable”? What was the function of his own vulnerability in understanding and advocating for the cause of “the most vulnerable”? What is his distinctiveness compared to other theological and ethical approaches for “the most vulnerable”? What are his lessons and implications for us today in the Trump Era?

• Howard Thurman began serving as the Dean of the Marsh Chapel at Boston University while Dr. King pursued his Ph.D. there. King was known to carry Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited with him while leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott that propelled him to the national scene. King’s book Where Do We Go from Here? is a partial response to some of the conversations that he had with Thurman. How might Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited and King’s Where Do We Go from Here? be put in dialogue with social movements in the 21st century? In light of Thurman and King, what is the importance of the spiritual grounding (or centering) for resilient political resistance and encompassing social transformation today, especially in the context of the Trump Presidency?

Co-sponsoring with the Music and Religion Unit: The musical legacy of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King, and the uses of music in the Civil Rights Movement, fits well with the conference theme. We are also interested in ways that we can connect Coretta Scott King's graduation from Boston's New England Conservatory of Music with a Mus.B in voice, and her presence in Boston resulting in her union with Martin Luther King. Coretta King and others (like Bernice Johnson Reagon and the SNCC Singers) used music to fund the Civil Rights Movement (Coretta gave concerts to raise money for the SCLC). Papers or pre-arranged panels will be considered.

• Other paper proposals that discuss King’s life, theology, and ethics are also welcomed.

Proposals are anonymous to chairs and steering committee members during review, but visible to chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection
ChairSteering Committee