Elena-Zhardel - March 24, 2017 10:35 pm

Martin Luther King’s plagiarism

The inclination to taking works of other people and using them in his works without proper citing and references is a fact about Martin Luther King not all people know. No, we do not doubt his contribution to the intellectual abilities of the man in question. But the reasons why a man of his position would act unethically remain unknown.


Plagiarism by Martin Luther King in his dissertations


Works by Martin Luther King were sent to Stanford University more than thirty years ago. His spouse sent them as a donation, but once scholars started reviewing them, they noticed similar patterns in both King’s works and those crafted by his fellow student who wrote papers on a neighboring topic only several years before King.

In fact, he works King titled as the “A Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich, and Henry Nelson Wieman” had big chunks of information taken and paraphrased from the papers of his peers.

Since this was not his only work on Systematic Theology, the scholars from the King Papers Project, decided to check more of his writing aiming to see whether this was an exception or a common practice of his work.

As it turned out, he used the same method a lot. Even though most of his ideas were his original thoughts, he still took words by other people and inserted them in his writing without proper quotation or correct references.

The reasons for such decisions by Martin Luther King are not known, but the fact remains: he failed to stick to the standards of writing dissertations which are unique and entirely original. People involved in the investigation of this issue refrained from any comments, as they lacked any evidence to clarify the motives of the man behind this action.

There is only one thing which some scholars say to settle the disputes around these problems. They state that he might not have cited them wrongly on purpose but rather as a result of the lack of organization. He took notes of all the right evidence to use in his paper, but as he might have forgotten to add quotes on every piece he saved for later, he simply used them as they were instead of quoting correctly.

However, the good thing is that the committee stated that there is no point in revoking the degree in Theology Martin Luther King obtained at his own time.


Martin Luther King’s plagiarism in speeches


The most famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr. is called “I Have a Dream.” And even though it is all original and crafted by the man himself, in the end, there is a small part which makes a shadow of the doubt to cross one’s mind. The thing is that the speaker got so inspired by the effect his first made on people that he started improvising instead of reading his exact words on the notes.

Thus, he ended up sounding very similarly to another speaker who was quite famous for delivering a speech in front of the Republican National Convention ten years before this situation.

However, despite all the arguments arising around this issue, some scholars say that Martin Luther King did not try to steal someone else’s words in a speech but rather used the manner which is quite common for the congregations of the African-American communities of those times.

An example of the man in question and claims that he was a plagiarist should teach us all a lesson: always take the time to organize your notes and sources you took them from and be careful with attempts to repeat the style of other individuals.

Also you can read about “Jayson Blair’s plagiarism”

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