History often simplifies the truth, as anyone who reads Nicholas Lemanns article on the complicated

History often simplifies the truth, as anyone who reads Nicholas Lemanns article on the complicated path to civil rights can attest. One of the figures prominently mentioned in Lemanns article, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is certainly larger from our current perspective than he seemed in 1963 because of his later role in the civil rights movement. But even with such giant figures as King, questions arise about his historical role which are less important than they deserve to be, or more important, depending on your individual view of history.
For example, long after his death in 1968, Dr. King was found to have plagiarized large parts of his doctoral dissertation. Many people are completely unaware of this accusation, many others believe it to be false, and still others think that even its true it shouldnt matter because of Dr. Kings lifelong body of work.
To gain familiarity with Dr. Kings plagiarism, take a quick look at the Wikipedia entry on the subject, which seems neutral in its presentation of the facts and chronology of the case: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr. Based on this article (which is only a superficial introduction to the many biographies, articles and history books), do you feel that it diminishes Dr. Kings reputation in any way? Do you feel, for example, that after Boston Universitys board of trustees became aware of the plagiarism, they should have posthumously revoked the doctorate that they awarded him in 1955? What do you think that universities should do in general when theyve discovered that any degree has been awarded on the basis of plagiarized work? Do you agree with Boston University‘s general policy of revoking such degrees and also their specific decision in this case of making an exception because of Kings contributions to society? Which part, if any, do you disagree with?

 

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