Hobart and William Smith Colleges - MLK and Political Service: Rose Authors First Book
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MLK and Political Service: Rose Authors First Book

In his first book, The Drum Major Instinct: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Theory of Political Service, Assistant Professor of Political Science Justin Rose offers a theoretical framework for understanding the writings of Dr. King.

Published this spring by the University of Georgia Press as part of the Morehouse College King Collection Series on Civil and Human Rights, Rose’s first monograph is the first comprehensive study of King’s overarching theory of political service. In The Drum Major Instinct, Rose draws on King’s sermons, political speeches and writings to construct and conceptualize the civil rights leader’s politics as a unified theory.

Rose identifies three central components of that theoretical framework that recur throughout King’s writings: first, that all of humanity is tied to an “inescapable network of mutuality” such that no member of society can fully flourish if there are structural barriers preventing others from flourishing; second, that Americans cultivate a sense of love and concern for their fellow members of society, which would motivate them to work collectively toward transforming others and structures of injustice; finally, that all members of society have the responsibility to participate in collective forms of resistance.

Taken together, King’s theory of political service calls on all Americans, but especially black Americans, to engage in other-centered, collective action aimed at transforming themselves, others and structures of injustice. By fully exploring King’s thoughts on service, The Drum Major Instinct is an invaluable resource toward understanding how King wanted us all to work to create a more just, democratic society and how his thoughts continue to resonate in contemporary struggles.

Rose, who has published other works in Black Perspectives and Contemporary Political Thought, joined the Colleges in 2013. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, M.A. from Baylor University and B.A. from Rutgers University – New Brunswick​. His scholarly interests include African-American political thought, contemporary political theories of justice and urban politics, among other topics. Co-director of the Africana Studies Program at HWS, Rose teaches a range of courses including politics in higher education, racial and ethnic politics, and black radical political thought of the 1960s.

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.