Why Martin Luther King Saw His Life as a Sacrifice

A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Biographer Sheds Light on the Civil Rights Icon’s Spiritual Trials

David J. Garrow is the author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1987. Warren Olney, a veteran journalist for KCRW, Southern California’s flagship NPR affiliate, who covered the civil rights movement as a young reporter, interviewed Garrow about King’s life in December 2017 in Los Angeles. They discussed the ongoing relevance of King’s work and his deep commitment to Christianity, equality, and nonviolence—including his response when he was actually punched by Nazis.

This transcript has …