From Montgomery to Memphis: The Rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr.

Andre E. Johnson's picture
Call for Papers
August 15, 2017
Tennessee, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Composition & Rhetoric, Communication

Editors: Andre E. Johnson and Steven Tramel Gaines, The University of Memphis 


In 2018, the nation will commemorate the fiftieth year anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. While many in the nation will come together and celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, the anniversary will also give rhetoric scholars an opportunity to study anew the rhetoric of one of America's finest orators. In addition, it will also give us an opportunity to add to what is a surprisingly small collection of scholarship on the rhetoric of King. To give a comparison, a search in the Communication and Mass Media index reveals a shocking discovery. Since his assassination in 1968, only thirty-five articles examine the rhetoric of King. Compare this to articles examining the rhetoric of President Barack Obama. Since 2005, seventy-nine articles examine the rhetoric of Obama. Therefore, despite Edwin Black's observations that King left a very "considerable body of written work—speeches, articles and books" and that King's "influence on the character of public persuasion is by itself sufficient to regard King’s rhetorical efforts as revolutionary,” the dearth of scholarship in rhetoric on King speaks volumes. 

Therefore, to commemorate the fiftieth year anniversary of the death of King, and to address the dearth of King scholarship in the area of rhetoric, we issue a call for chapters focusing on the rhetoric and rhetorical legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. We are especially looking for chapters that examine his early public career in Montgomery and his rhetoric from 1960-1965. Contributors must submit proposals of approximately 300 words no later than August 15, 2017, but we will base acceptance into the collection on completed essays of approximately 20-25 double-spaced pages submitted no later than November 30, 2017. Include contact information, previous publications, and academic affiliation, if any.  Please title the e-mail subject line of the proposal “MLK” when e-mailing the proposal to either Andre E. Johnson, PhD at or Steven Tramel Gaines  


Deadline for Proposals: August 15, 2017

Notification will be no later than August 30, 2017

First Complete Draft due: November 30, 2017

Various Draft Revisions: December 1 through February 15, 2018

Final Draft due: March 15, 2018


Contact Info: 

Andre E. Johnson, PhD

Steven Tramel Gaines 

Contact Email: