What Manner of Man Essay - Critical Essays

Lerone Bennett Jr.


It is clear that the author admires King’s character and sought to write a positive biography of him. Thus, Bennett finds very few flaws in the character of his subject, although he admits that King made some mistakes in judgment—as was the case with the demonstrations in Albany, Georgia, which he portrays as a failure. Bennett reminds his young readers that young Martin was a hardworking man who was college-bound at the age of fifteen and that, throughout his life, he demonstrated “intelligence plus character.” Martin attended Morehouse College, where he became interested in studying for the ministry, completed his master’s degree at Cozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, and moved on to Boston to complete his Ph.D. studies. There he felt emotionally and intellectually close to Coretta Scott, whom he soon married; he then returned to the South to become the pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was there that King was initiated into the leadership of the social phenomenon which later became known as the Civil Rights movement. Overall, Bennett characterizes King as a “fun loving” man, particularly when he was in college, and a man of strong willpower with “an instinctive gift for words”—stubborn, methodical, intelligent, and honest.

The author frequently tells his readers that King was a reluctant leader, as he writes that King “did not seek leadership in Montgomery: leadership sought him.” King, he states, “did not choose nonviolence; nonviolence chose him.” Yet once he had decided that he should be a leader in order to fulfill a call from his people and from God himself, King...

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