8 Books That Inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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‘Politics’ by Aristotle (Books I and III)

“Politics” is a work of political philosophy by Aristotle. The end of “Nicomachean Ethics” led into “Politics” by stating that the inquiry into ethics follows into politics. The two works are commonly considered part of a larger project dealing with the “philosophy of human affairs.”

In his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” King referenced his knowledge of Aristotle’s works saying,  “I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon. And I would watch them around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.”

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‘The City of God’ by Augustine

“The City of God” was written in the early fifth century by Augustine of Hippo. It was a response to allegations that Christianity was the cause of the fall of Rome. It is considered to be one of the philosopher’s most-renowned works. “The City of God” discusses many aspects of theology, including the suffering of the righteous, the existence of evil, the conflict between free will and divine omniscience and the doctrine of original sin.

In many of the letters, now housed in the archives at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, King writes notes on Saint Augustine and his “vast theological system” called Augustinianism.

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