University Survival Kit

The Martin Luther King You Didn’t Know: Plagiarism Test States “Guilty!”

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Martin Luther King, Jr., was a talented activist who managed to turn the perception of African-Americans upside down while struggling for their human rights.

You are likely to know that King was an influential African-American student in the USA, pastor in Alabama, was one of the leaders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement and received the Nobel Peace Prize…

But there is something else about him that you probably never learned in the history books: along with his role as an activist, he unfortunately turned out to be a plagiarist as well.

Test for plagiarism shows inarguable results!

King was suspected of plagiarism long ago, when he was a student at Morehouse and Crozer Theological Seminary, but his plagiarism was brought to light when his doctoral dissertation, ”A Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” appeared in a library catalogue. His work had obvious similarities with those of other scholars who wrote on the topic.

One of them was Jack Boozer, who wrote his paper three years before King’s at Boston University. What a pity that a website for checking plagiarism was not available at that time!

When experts carried out analyses of King’s other works, numerous textual duplications were detected. They were found in practically all his academic works . Still, newspapers did not immediately reveal this story – only in 1989 did the first article accusing King of plagiarism appear.

Even when his academic works were acknowledged as duplicated, they were not excluded from libraries as is usually the case to other works without appropriate citations of sources. Boston University even set up a panel in order to analyze the case. However, it resulted in nothing, and the panel members decided not to revoke his doctorate.

Speeches coincide

One more notorious plagiarism case is King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It has a lot in common with another leader’s speech – Archibald Carey, Jr. Let’s have a look at these similarities and draw conclusions.

Firstly, the following piece, which can be found in both speeches, is a part of the patriotic song ”My Country ‘Tis of Thee – America” written by Samuel Francis Smith, so both King and Carey seem to take advantage of famous song lyrics:

“My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!”

Talking about folk music, it’s closely related to national traditions and can be intertwined into any context (political context as well). It means people widely cite folk lyrics in various spheres of their life.

Additionally, here are some more similar pieces. King says:

“…So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.”

And quite the same words can be found in Carey’s speech:

“…let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains
of Vermont and New Hampshire…”

King continues with the following:

“…Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York …let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!.. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And here is what Carey said:

“…not only from the Catskills of New York, but… from the Stone Mountain in Georgia… from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

For more details and more plagiarism examples you can check the original texts of both speeches using an accurate plagiarism checker.

In the comments, share your thoughts on how your attitude has or has not changed toward famous people who’ve misstepped?