Newstok Takes Stock of the “Mountaintop”

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“A cosmopolitan heritage that belongs to us all” is how Scott Newstok, associate professor of English at Rhodes College, describes it: our shared cultural history. That’s one of the main points he makes in an essay called “The Crafts of Freedom,” which was recently posted on Chapter 16, a website devoted to Tennessee “writers, readers & passersby.”

It’s a timely post, because the subject of Newstok’s essay is the “Mountaintop” speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. on the evening before he was shot and killed in Memphis. Newstok looks at that eloquent, impassioned speech in terms of its artistry — the art of rhetoric. But he reminds us too of the tradition that went into it — the tradition of a liberal-arts education, the education King received at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University.

Today, April 4, 2015, first read Newstok’s essay here. Then return to the “Mountaintop” here, but for the full force of King’s speech: hear. •

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